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Election news from across Utah's statewide and national races in 2020.

Ben McAdams and Burgess Owens Spar on Healthcare Plans In 4th Congressional District Debate

A side by side collage of photos of Ben McAdams and Burgess Owens.
/Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Deseret News
Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, and Burgess Owens bump elbows after participating in the 4th Congressional District debate at the Triad Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020.

Rep. Ben McAdams, D- UT, and his challenger, former NFL Player Burgess Owens, debated their ideas for healthcare reform Monday evening, including a spirited back and forth about whether Owens supports rolling back the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare.

McAdams was elected to represent Utah’s Fourth Congressional District by less than 700 votes in 2018. The race is rated as a toss-up by the Cook Political Report, and is a high priority for national Republicans and Democrats.

Responding to a question from a diabetic Salt Lake Community College student, Owens said that both Democrats and Republicans want to keep protections for people with pre-existing conditions, which is part of the Affordable Care Act.

“Let's not let fear drive us,” Owens said.

He also had some other policy suggestions to make healthcare more affordable.

“Other things we're looking at are things like transparency,” Owens said. “How about portability? Whether you're working at a particular job or not, it is your income, your insurance instead of theirs. You can take it with you. This is the kind of conversations we need to have. And it comes by thinking outside the box, not thinking that all we have to do is stick with the process that there's been in the past.”

McAdams said that up until a few weeks ago, Owens’ website said he supported taking away protections for people with pre-existing conditions: a key part of the Affordable Care Act. According to the Internet Archive, as of Aug. 31, Owens' website said that he supported a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, but did not mention pre-existing conditions. It now says that a full repeal of the law is not necessary.

“Simply saying that you want to protect people with preexisting conditions is not going to protect them,” McAdams, who supports keeping the ACA, said. “We have to keep the protections in place right now … People are afraid. They're worried that they might lose life sustaining access to medication.”

During the debate, Owens denied that his website said he supported rolling back those protections.

Utah’s voter registration deadline is Oct. 23 and Election Day is Nov. 3.

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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