Health Care Vote Hounds Martha McSally in Tight Arizona Senate Race

McSally voted to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act

GOP candidate for Senate Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., speaks to students after touring the Universal Technical Institute in Avondale, Ariz.(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

AVONDALE, Ariz. — GOP Rep. Martha McSally continues to face criticism for her vote to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act, and engaged in a heated exchange with a local reporter over protections for people with pre-existing conditions after an event Wednesday.

“I have fought for pre-existing conditions. I voted to protect pre-existing conditions. This is personal,” the Arizona Republican told reporters after touring the Universal Technical Institute.

Brahm Resnik of the Phoenix NBC affiliate interjected, noting the GOP measure to repeal the 2010 health care law would have weakened protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Watch: McSally Defends Health Care Record in Testy Media Exchange

“It’s not true. It’s not true. Stop parroting Democratic talking points,” McSally said. “Health care is a complex issue. Right now it’s not working. Right now people with pre-existing conditions can’t get access to health care on the health insurance market or the individual insurance market because Obamacare has failed.”

The GOP bill, known as the American Health Care Act, included a provision that prohibited insurance companies from denying coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. However, it also provided states an avenue to waive certain regulations, which could have allowed insurance companies to charge people with pre-existing conditions more for coverage, potentially rendering health care unaffordable.

McSally voted for the GOP bill, and reportedly told her Republican colleagues the day of the vote to get this “f---ing thing” done.

McSally’s Democratic opponent, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, has made health care central to her campaign. The two lawmakers are competing in an open seat race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake.

Sinema accused McSally in a tweet Wednesday of lying about her record in response to a new McSally television ad where she said she has worked to force insurance companies to protect people with pre-existing conditions.

“Here’s the truth: I voted to protect coverage for the 2.8 million Arizonans with pre-existing conditions,” Sinema tweeted. “Martha voted to take it away.”

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race a Toss-Up.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.