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Health care headlines second NJ-11 debate

By Nikita Biryukov, October 13 2020 9:13 pm

Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) and challenger Rosemary Becchi locked heads over health care in a digital debate Tuesday evening.

At issue was the fate of the Affordable Care Act. Becchi, a lobbyist who served as tax counsel to the Senate Finance Committee in the 1990s, wants the bill eliminated but said some of its popular measures should preserved.

“I have a daughter who was born without her esophagus connected to her stomach and has had a lifetime of health and education issues,” she said. “There is no way I would vote for any kind of legislation that wouldn’t cover pre-existing conditions.”

The Republican added a provision allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance plan until the age of 26 should also be kept.

President Donald Trump’s administration is backing a suit before the U.S. Supreme Court that could see the ACA struck. If high court sides with the president, those entire bill would go to the headsman’s block.

“Simply saying you want to protect people is not a plan. We have a plan in place,” Sherrill said. “We’ve been working to improve it as the president’s been sabotaging it.”

Republicans have not introduced a plan to replace the ACA since public outcry killed the party’s American Health Care Act of 2017.

The debate, moderated by InsiderNJ’s Fred Snowflack, saw Becchi repeat attacks seeking to link Sherrill to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Defund the Police movement, which the incumbent said she opposes.

“If you take money and cash the check from the speaker, then you’re beholden to the party, and that’s not what I think this is about,” Becchi said. “I think it’s about being beholden to the people.”

Sherrill, one of 15 House Democrats to vote who did not back Pelosi for another term as speaker in 2018, received $10,000 from the House Majority PAC, a super PAC with ties to the chamber’s Democratic leadership.

The group hasn’t put money behind independent expenditures in the district this year, though it did run ads against Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) during Sherrill’s first bid for Congress.

Becchi’s strikes over Pelosi and defunding the police, which mirror attacks leveraged by national Republicans, came far less frequently than they did in a New Jersey Globe debate Sunday, though Sherrill still predicted them.

“You’re going to hear a lot about Nancy Pelosi, but what we really need to do is talk about the substance of the legislation,” the Democrat said in her opening statement. “You’re not going to hear what my opponent tends to do if the president is successful in overturning the Affordable Care Act, as she wants him to be, because she doesn’t have a plan.”

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