U.S. Rep. Nan Hayworth is standing behind her vote Wednesday on the repeal of President Barack Obama's health care law, while her Democratic challenger is accusing the former physician of siding with insurance companies over patients.
Pressing an election-year point, Hayworth (R-Bedford) joined fellow Republicans to push another bill through the House to repeal the nation's two-year-old health care law, the 33rd time in 18 months that the GOP majority has tried to eliminate, defund or otherwise scale back the program since the GOP took control of the House in the 2010 elections.
"We have an economy that is critically in need of healing. Roughly 24 million Americans are either unemployed or underemployed. This is not the time to impose two trillion dollars of Washington-generated cost when we already have a massive debt that we cannot afford," Hayworth said in a statement. "This is nothing short of economic malpractice."
The repeal vote came less than a week after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled key parts of the law were constitutional.
Repeal this year by Congress is doomed, since the Democratic-controlled Senate won't take it up. That hasn't stopped Republicans and Democrats from trying to make it a rallying point for party faithful ahead the Nov. 6 elections.
Hayworth, a physician, said in the statement that she endorses "the goals of the 2010 health law" but said repealing and replacing it "will provide immediate relief for the millions of Americans who are desperate to find jobs."
"I've talked with small business owners across our Hudson Valley who want to hire and grow but simply cannot when they are faced with the masses of new taxes, penalties, and choking red tape coming now from Washington," she said.
Sean Patrick Maloney, a Cold Spring attorney challenging Hayworth for the newly reconfigured 18th Congressional District seat in November, on Thursday criticized Hayworth's vote to "let insurance companies refuse coverage of kids with asthma."
"Nan may have been a doctor before she went to Washington, but after 33 votes against coverage for New York families her priorities are clear: insurance companies come first, patients second," Maloney said in a statement.
Voter dissatisfaction with the health care law helped Republicans win the House in 2010, and they hope it can give them a boost again this year. But Democrats are fighting back, and both sides are using the issue to raise campaign funds.
The fight over the landmark law is expected to weigh heavily in the matchup between Hayworth and Maloney, one of the most closely watched congressional races in the state.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.