Martha McSally, Mark Kelly clash over public health care option

Oct 6, 2020, 10:35 PM | Updated: 10:55 pm

PHOENIX — Republican Sen. Martha McSally and Democratic challenger Mark Kelly put forth their thoughts on how healthcare should be run in America during a debate on Tuesday night.

McSally, as has been the case with a majority of the Republican party, criticized the Affordable Care Act while Kelly embraced the idea of a public health insurance option to compete with the private industries.

Kelly related the issue of health insurance to his wife Gabby Giffords, who suffered a severe brain injury in an assassination attempt in Tucson in 2011, saying they were fortunate to have good health insurance.

The Democrat said the cost of health care is too much.

“Premiums, deductibles, co-pays, prescription medication, these are the issues Arizonans care about and should be working on,” Kelly said.

He said a public option competing with private insurance on the health care exchanges when there is only one option makes a lot of sense and people would potentially pay for that insurance.

McSally, meanwhile, said a public health care option would be the start of a full government take over of health care.

“Make no mistake, the public option means the government is competing with private health insurance, they’re never going to be able to compete,” McSally said.

“Private health insurance goes away and then you have the full government take over.”

McSally also debated Kelly’s thought of allowing 50-year-old people to buy into Medicare, a plan Kelly said could remove more people from the risk pool.

“Their scheme that just allows more people to be put on Medicare will have it collapse, rural hospitals will close, your taxes will go up over $2,300 just in the public option, private practices will close and 178 million Americans who get on the job health insurance will lose it.

“This is what’s dangerous about their plan.”

McSally said she is fighting to provide more healthcare options for people, such as buying insurance across state lines and allow small businesses to band together for more choice.

“Let’s provide that taxpayer resources to backstop those with the highest expenses and lets find more options that protect people with pre-existing conditions, not the government healthcare,” she said.

The issue of pre-existing conditions lead to a heated exchange between the two in the debate, but each said they would protect those with pre-existing conditions.

Kelly alleged McSally took corporate PAC money from the health insurance industry and pharmaceutical companies, coinciding with political ads against McSally.

“Not a lot of desire to make changes in our health care system that will help Arizonans when you’re doing something that is not helping those corporations,” Kelly said.

“Senator McSally isn’t working for us, she’s working for somebody else.”

McSally rebutted that Kelly is only accusing her of voting against pre-existing conditions due to her strive to undo the Affordable Care Act.

She said there are Arizonans with pre-existing conditions who are being failed by the Affordable Care Act.

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Martha McSally, Mark Kelly clash over public health care option