TRENTON —Healthcare is a major factor in two Congressional races and, according to polls,  is a major issue to New Jersey voters.

A Monmouth University poll showed it's the top issue for 24 per cent of voters, followed by corruption in government, taxes and immigration. It also came out as the top issue in a  Stockton University poll taken less than a week before the election.

At issue in multiple races: What's to become of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Congress and President Donald Trump have already removed one of its key provisions — a requirement that most people secure health insurance. Its healthcare exchanges, and most protections such as those against rejecting patients for preexisting conditions, remain.

In the Senate battle between incumbent Robert Menendez and Republican challenger Bob Hugin, Menendez has tried to make Hugin's position as head of Celgene Corporation an issue, casting him as a "greedy" executive.

While Mendendez helped put together the ACA, GOP representative Tom MacArthur played a role in crafting legislation that would repeal Obamacare. He was one of only nine Republicans to vote against an earlier measure that would have made it easier to repeal Obamacare in the waning days of the Obama Administration. But he came on board with repeal efforts after other Republicans agreed to an amendment he said would protect those with pre-existing conditions — a contention some experts disputed. That deal paved the way for the House's vote in 2017 on a repeal, only scuttled when a Senate vote fell just short.

Democratic challenger Andy Kim has made MacArthur's positions a key an issue in his campaign — accusing him of supporting measures that allow higher charges for pre-existing conditions — but MacArthur has accused Kim of focusing on what "plays well" in his advertising.

Here's where the candidates in key races stand on healthcare.

U.S. Senate:

(AP Photos)
  • Robert Menendez (Democrat): "Bob stood up against the Republicans’ misguided attempts to strip health care from millions of Americans, and said NO to a plan that hiked premiums for middle-class and working people, gutted the guarantee of essential benefits, disproportionately hurt women and the disabled and forced the most vulnerable to pay for a massive tax cut for the richest among us. Bob will continue fighting to defend and improve the Affordable Care Act while building on its success by working across the aisle so that millions of Americans can receive affordable coverage." (MenendezforNJ.com)
  • Bob Hugin (Republican): "Bob believes we need to address the increasing inequality of health outcomes and the social and economic issues impacting health care in our communities, while ensuring that high-quality care is accessible, affordable and delivers better value to all Americans. Bob will push for reforms that stop the system from discriminating against the sickest Americans and advocate for making payment systems based on value, performance and evidence-based approaches that provide transparency on cost and patient outcomes." (bobhugin.com)
Seth Grossman (L) and Jeff Van Drew (campaign provided)

2nd Congressional District:

  • Jeff Van Drew (Democrat): "As a Dentist, I have a firsthand understanding of the American healthcare system and the need to make it both accessible and affordable. Instead of working to address the root problem of the high cost of healthcare, Congress has increased costs on all of us, and are even trying to make it tougher for those with preexisting conditions to get the coverage they need. Together, we must focus on reforms to the Affordable Care Act that protect our families and small businesses, and work to lower the high cost of healthcare and prescription drugs. (vandrewforcongress.com)
  • Seth Grossman (Republican): The Republican seeks to repeal the ACA. “Obamacare caused millions of Americans to lose very affordable and workable insurance plans, and the current situation is not sustainable,” Grossman said. “I personally know many people who cannot afford their current policies, and $5000 deductibles are ridiculous. I would begin by repealing Obamacare mandates completely, and then letting each state experiment with its own system, and allowing insurance companies to sell policies across state lines," according to NJ Spotlight.

3rd Congressional District:

Tom MacArthur (L) and Andy Kim (campaign provided)
    • Tom MacArthur (Republican): "Tom opposed his own party’s efforts at a speedy Obamacare repeal, but when that failed he rolled up his sleeves and worked to improve access to care for millions of Americans without quality care. Tom also pushed to eliminate Obamacare tax increases and expand access to care for working-class seniors, as well as calling for increased funding for new mothers, mental health care, and substance abuse care." (tmac4congress.com)
    • Andy Kim (Democrat): In an interview with The New Statesman America, Kim called healthcare a universal right and said he leans towards a Medicare style single payer system. Kim also favors allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices as a stop gap while working on the larger issues of healthcare prices, according to NJ Spotlight.

7th Congressional District:

Leonard Lance (L) and Tom Malinowski (campaign provided)
  • Leonard Lance: The incumbent voted against a repeal of Obamacare in 2017 because the bill did not meet his goal of a plan that "lowers premiums, drives down health-care costs, encourages competition and gives every American access to quality, affordable health insurance," he said in a statement at the time. He later joined a group of that made changes to the law but the bill never came up for a vote.
  • Tom Malinowski: "The Trump administration and Republican leadership in Congress are sabotaging the ACA: by repealing the individual mandate, which ensures that the costs of insurance are widely and equitably shared; by ending payments to insurance companies that keep the cost of insurance down; by promoting junk insurance plans that leave out essential health services and attacking protections for those with pre-existing conditions."(Malinowskifornj.com)

11th Congressional District

Jay Webber (L) and Mikie Sherrill (campaign provided)
  • Mikie Sherrill (Democrat): "We can do more to bring down costs and make sure all Americans have access to affordable healthcare coverage...First, we need to stabilize the healthcare marketplace...Second, we need to make sure we protect the hard-won gains in our healthcare system. This includes protections for pre-existing conditions and the ten essential health benefits, as well as the ability of our children to stay on their parent’s insurance until they turn 26...Let’s allow Medicare to leverage its buying power to negotiate lower drug prices – it works for the VA and it will help bring down costs for our seniors." (mikiesherill.com)
  • Jay Webber (Republican): On his Assembly website, Webber wrote that he introduced introduced a bill "that would permit New Jerseyans to purchase health insurance from other states, which would encourage competition in the healthcare marketplace, drive down insurance costs, and expand our choices" (jaywebber.org)

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ