Healthcare reform continues to be an issue in Arizona's sprawling Congressional District 1, with the Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick and Republican Andy Tobin supporting their party's position on the Affordable Care Act.
Kirkpatrick voted for the measure, and said in a recent debate it has benefited rural Arizonans who were already using public health benefits.
Tobin opposes the reform act, and said it is bankrupting rural Arizona and causing physicians to leave areas that already are medically understaffed.
The two are vying for the congressional seat that represents eastern Arizona, and also includes Oro Valley and Flagstaff, in an otherwise rural district.
The race is competitive, though Democrats have a voter-registration advantage, and is getting national attention as Republicans try to regain the seat. Voters have alternately elected representatives from each parties in the last three election cycles.
That's why the district needs a new voice, said Tobin, the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives.
"We have lost touch with our district and Washington has just totally ignored them, so I’m here to make sure that they don’t get ignored," he said.
He is trying to unseat Kirkpatrick in November. She was first elected in 2008, then defeated in the 2010 election, and elected again in 2012.
"My top three priorities are creating good paying jobs, fighting for our veterans to make sure they have the benefits they need, and reaching across the aisle and getting results," she said.
Tobin opposes the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. It is bankrupting rural communities and forcing physicians to leave rural areas, he said. Voters are worried about what the health reform means for them, he said.
"They’re so fearful of who’s going to get thrown off, who’s not going to end up with their tax credits when they file their taxes, and so poorly concocted without a single Republican," he said.
Kirkpatrick said Tobin's opposition would leave people without health care they rely on.
"His policy is to repeal the Affordable Care Act and he fought Medicaid expansion, and even sued over Medicaid expansion. That is just wrong for CD1," she said.
More than 60 percent of the people who live in CD1 already use public health care, she said.
"That includes veterans, Indian health services, Medicaid, Medicare," she said.
In addition to costing too much money, Tobin said the Affordable Care Act doesn't provide enough payment for physicians.
"They partially funded this thing with almost a $1 trillion cut in Medicare reimbursement," he said.
Kirkpatrick disputed Tobin's cost claim.
"None of the data supports that the system is going bankrupt," she said. "The ACA is not perfect, and we need to continue to try to improve it and make it better."
See the CD1 candidates discuss immigration reform and education funding on Metro Week.