Hiral Tipirneni, under fire: “I did not profit from” Obamacare

PHOENIX — Congressional candidate Hiral Tipirneni claimed during an interview this week that she “did not profit” from President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, attempting to push back on recent criticism to the contrary.

Tipirneni appeared on “Arizona Horizon” Thursday night to talk about her uphill bid for the open seat in Arizona’s eighth congressional district.

Even though liberal pundits and allied outside groups have largely given up on the party’s chances in the conservative district, the Democratic candidate said that she believes the race is winnable — not just a symbolic bid to make a point.

When pressed by host Ted Simons over criticism that she financially benefited from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act — often known as “Obamacare” — Tipirneni responded that it was “political mud-slinging” and “not even worthy of response.”

“I did not profit from it,” she said. “The company has other arms. That has no connection to me. My work has never had anything to do directly with the ACA.”

The truth is a little more blurry.

The company that Tipirneni referred to — SRA International — received a lucrative $92 million contract under the Obama administration in part to help implement the Affordable Care Act. The Democratic candidate has worked as a Scientific Review Officer at SRA International since 2010. Republicans point to her $1.5 million home — fitted with a large pool, tennis court, and solar panels — as proof that the Democrat made a fortune in the private sector.

Tipirneni has been an outspoken supporter of President Obama’s health care overhaul on the campaign trail and often argues that the government should implement a “public option” to supplement it. The proposal for a “Medicare-for-all” system is popular among supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders, for which Tipirneni’s opponent, Republican former state senator Debbie Lesko, has criticized her as fiscally irresponsible.

“How are you going to pay for this?” Lesko asked during a recent debate. “You can’t just say, ‘Oh, I want to give free things to everybody’ and not have a way to pay for it.”

Tipirneni’s career as a physician has been scrutinized as well. While shown wearing medical scrubs and interacting with patients in campaign ads, an ABC15 investigation revealed that the Democrat had not actually treated any patients in about 11 years and was mentioned in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Both candidates recently released campaign-finance reports for the latest filing period. Tipirneni, despite pledging to reject influence from lobbyists, received thousands of dollars from lawyers and lobbyists between February 8 and April 4, including a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

The general election is on Tuesday, April 24.

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