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October 22, 2012

In Mass. Senate race, health care is a pivotal issue

BOSTON — Massachusetts provided the blueprint for President Barack Obama’s 2010 federal health care law, but in the state’s contentious U.S. Senate race, the debate over that signature piece of legislation continues to loom large.

Republican incumbent Scott Brown won the state’s special election two years ago by vowing to be the “41st” vote against the health care legislation. As he seeks re-election, Brown is again pledging to help repeal the law.

Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren is a staunch defender of the law, pointing to what she says are its successes, including the expansion of insurance to millions of Americans and added benefits that were not included in Massachusetts’ 2006 health care law.

The Massachusetts law provided a model for Obama’s law.

Brown argues that the 2010 Affordable Care Act includes too many tax hikes and the decision to expand care should be left up to the states. Warren counters that getting rid of the law would again plunge the country into a rancorous debate over health insurance.

For both candidates, the fight over the health care law is critical as they try to appeal to key voting groups during the final two weeks of the campaign.

Brown, who needs to drive up his support among independent voters, is portraying the law as an example of federal intrusion. Brown supported Massachusetts’ health care law and says all Americans deserve health care coverage, but he says Obama’s law goes too far.

“Health care reform should be left to the individual states as we did here in Massachusetts, and we should not cover our citizens with higher taxes because our economy is going in the wrong direction,” Brown said.

Warren, who needs to maintain enthusiasm among Democrats and women while also reaching out to independent voters, says the federal law includes additional benefits for Massachusetts residents that were not part of the state’s 2006 health care law.

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