U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell, a two-term Democrat running for re-election in the Republican-leaning 8th Congressional District, has never ducked from his opposition to the Affordable Care Act.
Earlier this month, he was one of five Democrats who sided with Republicans and voted to repeal the act.
Yet two weeks before the vote, Kissell took credit for helping secure $379,167 in federal money for a new health care clinic near China Grove in Rowan County money provided by the Affordable Care Act.
Asked about the source of the funding, Kissells office issued a statement.
We leave no stone unturned in helping our local communities bring resources home, and are unapologetic about anything we can do to bring our tax dollars home and have them working for us here in North Carolina.
Christopher Schuler, the Biscoe Democrats spokesman, said Kissell was too busy Wednesday and Thursday with House votes and meetings to take questions about the funding.
The act, which opponents deride as Obamacare, is considered President Barack Obamas signature legislative victory.
Richard Hudson, Kissells Republican opponent in the November election, called the incumbents conflict a stunning hypocrisy.
Larry Kissell positioned himself to get credit for a grant tied to Obamacare, said Hudson, an aide to former Republican Rep. Robin Hayes, who Kissell unseated in 2008. Then two weeks later, he positioned himself to repeal the law that has the money in it.
Hudson also opposes the Affordable Care Act and said, if elected, he wouldnt go after money provided by the law. He added he would have looked for other money sources for the Rowan center.
Theres got to be better ways to fund these centers than from this destructive bill, Hudson said.
The Kissell-Hudson contest is projected to be one of the tightest U.S. House races in the country.
Political analysts have said Kissell is vulnerable because his district was redrawn to include more Republicans and fewer Democrats and African-American voters, who typically vote for Democrats.
In recent weeks, Kissell, a conservative Democrat, has upset black voters who he needed for re-election in 2010. In addition to voting to repeal the health care law, hes refused to endorse Obamas re-election bid. He also voted to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the countrys first black attorney general, in contempt of Congress.
The Cook Political Report has labeled the district leaning Republican.
Clinic opens in October
The $379,167 grant was awarded by the U.S. Human Resources and Services Administration to the Cabarrus Community Health Centers for the new clinic in southern Rowan County.
The money comes from a part of the Affordable Care Act that established the Community Health Center Fund and provides $11 billion over five years to operate, expand and construct health care centers throughout the country. These centers are considered to be on the front line for providing primary and preventive care to low-income Americans.
The Rowan clinic, scheduled to open in October, will be housed in the South Rowan Medical Mall near China Grove, said Cappie Stanley, CEO of Cabarrus Community Health Centers. The agency is collaborating with Rowan Regional Medical Center to operate the center.
It will provide care to anyone not just Rowan residents regardless of ability to pay, Stanley said.
The money, she said, will pay for personnel costs, rent, utilities and supplies.
The clinic will target folks who normally might have problems with access to care, Stanley said. We are very glad to have the grant and were grateful to anyone who helped get it along the way.
Kissell said the clinic will strengthen health care services across the region.
Im glad to have worked to help secure this funding and will continue to make sure that our tax dollars are being spent here at home to put people to work and take care of our citizens, Kissell said in a release that announced the grant in June.
Hudson said the grant shows Kissell tries to work both sides of the Obamacare issue.
Larry Kissell, he said, continues to leave us wondering what he really stands for.