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Fact-check: What's true and what's not in the CD8 race between Tipirneni, Lesko

Posted at 6:40 PM, Oct 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-24 15:41:28-04

Democrats are hoping for an upset in Arizona's 8th Congressional District. Republican Debbie Lesko won the seat in a special election in April.  

The seat was vacated by Rep. Trent Franks when he resigned after misconduct allegations involving subordinates that prompted a House Ethics Committee probe.  But it wasn't exactly a landslide victory. Lesko only secured the seat by a five-point margin, barely edging out political newcomer Dr. Hiral Tipirneni.

A recent television ad by the Lesko campaign alleges: "Tipirneni supports a path to a $32 trillion government takeover of healthcare which eliminates Medicare Advantage for seniors."

This claim is something Lesko has repeated in debates and Tipirneni has vehemently denied.

The $32 trillion figure comes from a study on the Bernie Sanders' "Medicare For All" plan. However, that is not Tipirneni's proposal. Under her plan, people younger than 65 would have the opportunity to pay into Medicare to expand it so it turns into a public option. The public option would compete with private insurance carriers.

According to a recent Tipirneni ad: "She's (Lesko) selling out Arizona seniors to pay for corporate tax breaks."

This claim cites an article in The Arizona Republic where Lesko said she would have supported the Trump tax cut.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested in a Bloomberg interview that an overhaul to entitlement programs is what is needed to reduce the federal deficit. The deficit grew in part because of decreased revenue from the cuts. However, in July Rep. Lesko sponsored legislation to protect entitlements for seniors. H. Res. 1026 "rejects any changes to Medicare or Social Security that diminish benefits for Americans currently enrolled, or soon to be enrolled, in the Medicare Program or the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program." Editor's note: This paragraph was modified to clarify the claim and to add details of Rep. Lesko's resolution to preserve Social Security and Medicare.

The recent Lesko ad also alleges Tipirneni "opposes the building the wall". Tipirneni has said she opposes spending billions of dollars on a border wall.

During a debate on PBS, she said she would favor using that money for other methods of border security and on projects like education and infrastructure.

A recent Tipirneni ad also says: "Have you seen politician Debbie Lesko's dirty attacks? The Arizona Medical Association calls her attacks untrue and rescinded their endorsement."

The Arizona Medical Association's Political Action Committee did rescind its endorsement of Lesko after her camp erected "fake doctor" signs near Tipirneni's campaign signs. Tipirneni is still a licensed doctor.

In a news release, the group called the ads "disrespectful to the physician community at large" though It is not endorsing either candidate in the CD8 race.