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Viewpoint: Idaho's U.S. Senate candidates lay out their stances on key issues

On this Viewpoint Republican Senator Jim Risch and Democrat Paulette Jordan discuss the pandemic response, economic stimulus, education and the Affordable Care Act.

BOISE, Idaho — We are in the thick of a contentious and captivating election season. There is high passion for politics this year driven by the presidential race, but there are very important races in Idaho, too.

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, is the race to represent Idaho in the U.S. Senate.

Republican Senator Jim Risch is running for a third six-year term.

His challenger is former Idaho State Representative and 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Paulette Jordan.

KTVB's Doug Petcash conducted wide-ranging interviews with the candidates.

With so much ground to cover, KTVB is dedicating this Viewpoint and the next to this key race.

This is part one. It focuses on the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic, the debate over the next stimulus package, education and health care, specifically the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which faces a Supreme Court challenge a week after the election.

Below are excerpts of the candidates laying out their stances on the ACA.

Paulette Jordan: "The Affordable Care Act should absolutely be protected. Unfortunately we have a current senator who has done his best to try to dismantle the ACA and remove the rights for others to have health insurance, especially those with pre-existing conditions. So this is a major issue that's going to be on the ballot and I hope that many of those who turned out in 2018, over 62% of Idahoans who voted in favor of expanding Medicaid will turn out again in this election cycle to make sure that you have access to coverage, that you have access to Medicaid. We had so many people back in 2018 turning out in our communities to make sure that those from the left and the right and those who are independent and Libertarian and from the Green Party that they were all able to come together on this one very important issue and again that's access to healthcare. So when we see a SCOTUS nominee that is willing to dismantle the ACA and willing to dismantle the rights to reproductive health care for women especially, many of us know that this is our right as people and we have to fight for that right. And this is another battle that we are facing. While it's unfortunate it's going to be a major issue this election cycle. Many people must be well aware that if the ACA is removed or dismantled in some way, the way that Senator Risch wants it to, then we are going to be in that battle to make sure that we have the right representation to fight back and ensure that we are protecting the Affordable care act, but also ensure that we are protecting health care moving into the future. For myself, I've been promoting integrative solutions and functional medicine, so I definitely know that we have a lot more work to do when it comes to the ACA."

Doug Petcash: Do you believe the Affordable Care Act should be dismantled and replaced?

Senator Jim Risch: "Short answer is yes. I voted against it to begin with. I voted against it a number of times as we've tried to get rid of it and change it. But what's lost on everything is the political argument that's going back and forth as our adversaries on the other are saying 'the Republicans want to repeal this.' We do, but they forget the second part of that question. If the Supreme Court says it's unconstitutional, that's not the end of it. It's just the beginning of it. This thing was put in place originally, unlike Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, all the big social programs, it was put in place by one political party, the Democrats. We have a different way of wanting to do this. This needs to be a discussion. It needs to be a give and take. It needs to be a compromise. With all due respect to my friends on the other side, they say the Republicans want to take away the protections that people have like coverage for pre-existing conditions. Nothing could be further from the truth. i don't know of one republican that wants to take that away. Protection for pre-existing conditions is part of the American fabric. We're going to see that it's there. I commit to Idahoans; I will never vote for anything that is a solution to this that does not have protections for pre-existing conditions."

Next week in part two of our focus on Idaho's U.S. Senate race the topics will include racial injustice and policing, foreign relations and climate change.

You can watch Viewpoint Sunday mornings at 6:30 and Fridays at 12:30 p.m. on KTVB.

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