Fighting to Save Healthcare on the Jersey Shore

Jody Stewart

The Jersey Shore, still reeling from Hurricane Sandy, is on the front lines as Republicans seek to toss people off Medicaid, jack up costs for people who are older and poorer, and rip up protections for people with preexisting conditions.

Fortunately, Jody Stewart and her friends at the New Jersey Organizing Project are on the case. In shore towns, they’ve taken up the call to defend their families, friends, and neighbors from this heartless plan.

In coming weeks, Our Future will be featuring hometown champions like Jody who are leading the fight for health care for all.

What’s my hometown like? That depends on whether you mean before Superstorm Sandy or after. Little Egg Harbor used to be about fishing tournaments and a place with that small hometown feel. That’s still true, but we continue to rebuild from the storm – and now we’re also fighting for our health care.

Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012, ravaging about 4,000 homes. Mine was one of those all but destroyed. Since then, my husband and I have been left homeless, battled with the insurance company and the state, and lost our most cherished items. So, I know what it’s like to have everything wiped away.

Now I’m scared to death that Congress and President Trump will take away our health care the same way Superstorm Sandy took our homes and our security.

Before the Affordable Care Act, I was uninsured. Insurance was just too expensive. Now I have coverage through the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, and I get my medications worry-free. I don’t have to choose which to take and which to go without. Then there’s Medicare, which meant my husband could have both knees replaced at the same time, by one of the best surgeons in our area. He spent 23 days in the hospital and house rehab, debt-free.

The ACA and Medicare gave us peace of mind. But now our peace of mind is gone, killed by the Trump-Ryan health care repeal plan. I’m fighting back, though, for myself, my husband, and everyone in my community. I’ve spoken to TV reporters, newspaper reporters, congressman and senators, even gone out and waved signs, saying, “Please, no more chaos. We’ve had enough of that.”

As a Republican, I’ve learned that it’s up to us to make sure politicians from both parties do the right thing for people. Thanks to the New Jersey Organizing Project, a group founded by Sandy survivors, I know I’m not alone.

In Little Egg Harbor, I’m going to keep holding our congressman’s feet to the fire – to make sure he protects our health care, but also for something more: to say it’s time to make our health care better, get more affordable drugs, let everyone get Medicaid or Medicare like my husband and I do.

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