The rhetoric between state Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, and his opponent, Republican Tazewell County Treasurer Mary Burress, is growing increasingly negative in the lead-up to the Nov. 3 election.
Both candidates are currently airing ads on local broadcast TV stations. Burress is blasting an ad aired by Koehler that claims she would support removing health care protections for pre-existing conditions.
"For him to come out with such negative ads, that I would not protect pre-existing ads, is just not true," Burress said at a Tuesday morning press conference outside the Peoria County Courthouse.
Burress, whose late husband and step-son both had pre-existing conditions, said she takes the ads personally as an attack on her family.
"Why would you want to see a family member suffer every day, and then wonder, 'How am I going to pay for this?" she asked. "It won't be happening. I will protect that."
Burress said she also opposes cuts to Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security.
But in a statement, Koehler said Burress has received more than $800,000 from those who want to scale back health care protections, including Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady of Bloomington.
“The fact is Mary Burrress is supported by those interested in dismantling health care laws protecting people with pre-existing conditions from having their coverage stripped away by big insurance companies," said Koehler. "It is too bad that Mary refused the offer to discuss policy issues like this at the League of Women Voters forum on Sept. 17th.”
People with pre-existing conditions are protected under the Affordable Care Act, the federal law passed by Congress in 2010 over which the Illinois General Assembly has little power.
Asked about her own ads strongly criticizing Koehler's record as a 14-year incumbent, Burress claimed her ads are simply telling the facts about his voting record, not negative.
The candidates are running for the 46th Senate seat that includes parts of Peoria, Tazewell, and Fulton counties.
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