Karen Handel defeated Jon Ossoff for the highly contested 6th Congressional District seat in Georgia on Tuesday night. This race was the most expensive congressional race in U.S. history and a key victory for Republicans who want to hold on to their majority despite polls showing their vision for health care is widely unpopular.
Handel will replace Tom Price, the former orthopedic surgeon who vacated the seat to become President Trump’s health secretary. Her win continues Republicans’ control over Georgia’s 6th District, a seat they’ve held since 1979.
The 55-year-old Handel, Georgia’s former secretary of state, spent much of her campaign praising the American Health Care Act passed by House lawmakers this past spring. Here are five things to know about Handel’s positions on health care issues:
1. Repeal Obamacare
Handel says the Affordable Care Act is “collapsing” and wants to replace it with the AHCA. She does, however, concede the AHCA has its flaws. She believes the final bill should treat states like Georgia, which opposed Medicaid expansion, in a more “equitable way” through “market-based, patient-centered reforms.”
2. Protect preexisting conditions
Handel, whose sister was born without an esophagus, says she wants to preserve preexisting condition protections and believes the Republican plan does just that. During one recent debate, she said “the bill in the Senate right now provides more protections for individuals with preexisting conditions.”
3. End the individual mandate
Handel said in a recent debate that monthly premiums for insurance for her and her husband purchased through the Obamacare individual market skyrocketed from $350 to $1,200. (She didn’t say over how many years the increase occurred.) On the campaign trail, the longtime fiscal conservative expressed her support for the AHCA, even if the replacement plan isn’t perfect, because it would free people from the burden of an individual mandate.
4. Strike abortion funding
Handel is anti-abortion. She caught flak on the campaign trail for her role in getting the Susan G. Komen foundation, which supports breast cancer screenings, to pull funding from Planned Parenthood in 2012. Handel, who resigned after public backlash forced the foundation to reverse its decision, ultimately wrote a book about the ordeal. One thing’s clear: When Republican lawmakers try again to defund Planned Parenthood, they’ll have an ally in Handel.
5. Avoid single-payer insurance
Handel opposes single-payer health care, in part, because of the long waits she’s seen in other nations embracing that sort of system.