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Chellie Pingree, Jay Allen Clash Over Health Care, Mask Use In 1st District Debate

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Maine Public illustration
Chellie Pingree and Jay Allen

Incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree and Republican challenger Jay Allen disagreed on just about every issue, including health care, in a 1st District congressional debate Tuesday sponsored by Portland television station WGME.

Allen argued that the Affordable Care Act is too expensive and needs to be replaced.

“It has driven up costs, especially for premiums and deductibles, so it is unaffordable for most people who are participating in it so yes, that should be repealed,” he said.

Pingree, a fervent supporter of the ACA, said while it needs improving, it should be protected.

“I would not repeal Obamacare. I was in the Congress when we passed this but I have been frustrated by working with Republicans in Congress who have voted over 50 times to repeal it but never really offered up a solution to replace it,” she said.

The two also clashed over efforts to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic. Allen said masks should not be mandated.

“I am not against masking in total but you should give people the option, because people know best what is best for them,” he said.

Pingree said mask use should be broadly encouraged. She argued some masking requirements are warranted to protect the public and the individuals using the masks.

“It’s fine to say they should have the option but to have a medical professional saying you don’t need to do it or the president of the United States saying you don’t need to do it undermines, really undermines our public health concerns,” she said.