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Bilbray Supports Cancer Research Over Health Access

Aired 11/5/12 on KPBS News.

An emotionally wrenching ad featuring Congressman Brian Bilbray's daughter, Briana, highlights inconsistencies in the candidate’s claims.

Congressman Brian Bilbray has made no secret of the fact that his daughter Briana’s cancer diagnosis has had a profound effect on him.

An emotionally wrenching ad featuring Briana is very different from the hours of negative ads viewers have been subjected to throughout this hard fought campaign for the 52nd Congressional District.

In the ad, Briana issues a deeply personal appeal to viewers to vote for her father.

“I’m Brianna Bilbray," she says, "and I have terminal cancer. My dad’s work may not save my life, but it could save thousands of others.”

Bilbray has worked hard to raise money for cancer research.

Some of his strongest endorsers as he fights to keep a seat in Congress have come from the life sciences industry. In fact, Bilbray was named 2011 Legislator of the Year by San Diego’s BIOCOM.

Most recently, Bilbray proposed a bill to set up a skin cancer research fund. The money would come from a 10 percent tax on tanning salons.

However, that tanning salon tax is an element of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, which Bilbray has pledged - along with his party - to repeal.

Bilbray’s office said his bill would seek to separate the tanning salon tax from the Health Care Reform Act.

But taking revenue from health reform could backfire on cancer patients, said Anthony Wright, director of Health Access California, a leading voice for the Affordable Care Act.

"It’s outrageous that you would steal money from providing coverage and care to provide research," Wright said. " We have 15,000 Californians with pre-exiting conditions who are now getting care under the Affordable Care Act. If Representative Bilbray’s vote won the day, those 15,000 people would become uninsured and uninsurable - including cancer patients."

Bilbray’s office said Bilbray has not identified alternative money for the cancer research fund if the Health Care Reform Act is struck down.

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