Health care is a hot topic in this year’s midterm elections, and the Arizona U.S. Senate race is no exception.
Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is competing against Rep. Martha McSally for a seat currently held by retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake. The race is considered a pivotal one in a heated national battle over which party will control the Senate. In Arizona, Republicans have had a huge advantage in recent statewide races, having held both Arizona Senate seats continuously since 1995.
What have they said?
Sinema was on the hot seat for past comments about Arizona voters, including comments that Arizona is “crazy.” In turn, McSally has faced criticism for voting last year in the House to repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Sinema voted against the move.
In 2017, the Affordable Care Act had 11.8 million enrollees and 83 percent of them received premium subsidies. They paid an average monthly premium of $89.
"I meet people every single day who basically go uncovered under Obamacare," McSally told the Arizona Republic. "It's important for people to realize that under the Affordable Care Act, you have millions of people with pre-existing conditions who don't have health insurance. They can't afford it. That's really important for people to know."
Sinema’s pro-Obamacare message has gained traction in Arizona, despite the state’s challenges in offering “individual market consumers” multiple plan options.
The state has seen insurers exit the program and several years of big premium hikes, although the severity of the problems have varied by county. Today, there is only one marketplace insurance option in most areas of Arizona, except for Pima County, which includes Tucson, according to the Washington Post.
During a debate with Sinema earlier this month, McSally said: “In 14 of 15 counties in Arizona, there was only one choice last year, and that is not a choice,” she said during a recent debate.
McSally has also worked to explain how House Republicans passed the American Health Care Act, but saw their “repeal-and-replace” effort shot down in the Senate.
Sinema’s strategy has included running ads from the start of September through the middle of October that mentioned pre-existing conditions, according to reports.
“The reality is that Arizonans are worried about losing access to this critical coverage, and Martha voted to take that protection away,” Sinema said during the debate.
The Washington Post noted that Sinema’s message is not entirely accurate.
“The AHCA would have retained Obamacare’s requirement that insurers cover people with preexisting conditions,” according to the report. “What it would have done, however, was provide a limited pathway via federal waivers for states to temporarily allow higher premiums for people with preexisting conditions. That would effectively mean that sick people would need to pay more for insurance.”