By Jessica Mathews /

Tuesday night marked the final debate in the 8th District congressional race, with some terse exchanges again over the issue of health care.

Democratic incumbent Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Holly and Republican challenger Paul Junge of Brighton squared off on a variety of topics. The debate was hosted by Cleary University and broadcast live on WHMI.

Toward the beginning of the debate, the issue of the Affordable Care Act and protecting coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions was discussed as well as how to ensure protections if the ACA is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Slotkin commented that Junge had the "audacity" to bring up her mother during a previous debate and claimed her mother’s insurance was too expensive for her - not because of a pre-existing condition in that her mother happened to have an early cancer that followed her mother the rest of her life so companies could price gouge her - but because of undue regulation. Slotkin asserted that Junge won’t be clear and noted since that debate, prominent Republicans, including some from Michigan, have come out to say President Trump is wrong for trying to undo protections for people with pre-existing conditions Junge “doesn’t have the guts to be clear and it’s people’s lives.”

Junge responded by saying “the dishonesty of that answer was breathtaking.” He said Slotkin knows full well that in their first forum he said unequivocally and clearly that he would protect people with pre-existing conditions. Junge described it as a “another partisan false choice” offered by the congresswoman, adding it’s ridiculous to say the only way to protect people with pre-existing conditions is for a candidate to try to dictate to the President what type of lawsuits he should pursue, even if the President dropped the lawsuit. Junge stated he would do whatever is needed protect people with pre-existing conditions but if a court were to decide the ACA was unconstitutional, he questioned what member would want to uphold something that’s been deemed unconstitutional.

Slotkin accused Junge of refusing to be clear and sidestepping questions while Junge again raised questions about Slotkin’s voting record. The candidates were asked if they felt health care coverage was a right that needs to be afforded to all Americans, which Junge and Slotkin had differing views on.

Junge said the difficulty of calling something that costs money and requires effort from others right is then you give the government the power and authority to compel people to act, and there has to be a limit to that. In a compassionate society, Junge said we need to do everything can to make sure people get the treatment they need. He pointed to a law that’s been in effect since the 1980’s that hospitals must admit and stabilize people, as well as Medicaid programs and federally funded clinics. Junge said he hesitates to say it’s a right because then you put an obligation from the government to compel people to act and he doesn’t think that’s where the country wants to go.

Slotkin said she believes all people deserve access to health care and that it is a right – adding if this is such a wonderful society, then we should be able to care for the most vulnerable. Slotkin said the cost of health care and prescription drugs is too expensive and that is this generation’s problem to solve. Some important principals for her to retain include protecting people with pre-existing conditions, lifetime caps on how much someone can spend and making sure a child can stay on a parent’s healthcare until age 26. Slotkin alleged Junge won’t be specific, saying his Republican Party controlled the House, Senate and White House for two years and had plenty of time to push through a "wonderful package" that would have protected Americans but did not. Slotkin said any claim that Democrats are somehow keeping everyone from having healthcare that they can afford is a fallacy.

Junge again asserted that Slotkin votes and sticks with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Slotkin responded that Junge continually presents misleading information – stating Pelosi has voted 77 times, while she has taken over 800 votes. Slotkin said over 640 had Republicans voting for the same bill and she’s voted against her party 56 times – clarifying that she is in Washington voting once a week.

The issues of police reform and hate speech also came up and Slotkin challenged Junge to publicly denounce the group The Proud Boys, which he did. Proud Boys has been described as a far-right neo-fascist organization that admits only men as members and promotes political violence, although the group itself insists it has not, and will not allow white supremacists into their ranks, nor any other ethno-nationalist group member.

Other topics of debate included bi-partisanship, election security, preventing foreign influence in elections, COVID-19 relief, and a breakdown in congressional talks with the president about another stimulus package before the November 3rd General Election.

A link to the full debate can be heard through the link below.