U.S. House, District 6: Hiral Tipirneni touts her health care experience, focuses on economic security

As a doctor, Dr. Hiral Tipirneni says she has an inside track when it comes to battling the coronavirus and providing affordable health care. She is a Democrat running for U.S. House of Representatives in District 6. (Photo courtesy of Hiral Tipirneni campaign)

Candidate name: Hiral Tipirneni
Political affiliation: Democrat
Position sought: U.S. House of Representatives, District 6
City of residence: Glendale
Age: 53
Career: Medical doctor

With the election just days away, Cronkite News is profiling candidates on the Nov. 3 ballot.

How would you rate Arizona’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? Why?

“The response to the pandemic in Arizona has been a result of failure of leadership,” Tipirneni said.

Gov. Doug Ducey handled the pandemic in Arizona “far too late,” which resulted in the state having one of the highest COVID-19 rates in the United States during the summer, Tipirneni said.

She called the response worrisome because Arizona doesn’t have a statewide mask mandate, and there hasn’t been a data-driven approach to dealing with the pandemic.

Arizona has recorded more than 230,000 cases, and Tipirneni said this was avoidable if the governor had stayed true to his word and allowed for the response to be driven by data.

If elected, what steps would you take to mitigate the impact of this disease?

“I would want to lead with the science and data. We need to intensely expand our testing capacity,” Tipirneni said.

She said Arizona needs to conduct more testing, and she would invest in the resources to do so.

The 53-year-old emergency physician said she would like to see more data released on cases as well as quick turnaround times for test results.

“We can implement really strong contact tracing procedures … and that requires manpower and actual infrastructure of that system,” she said.

Along with testing and contact tracing procedures, Tipirneni said there’s a shortage of personal protection equipment in hospitals and medical clinics, and she would increase PPE supplies.

She also said she would take action to ensure the safety of teachers and students in classrooms during the pandemic.

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Do you have concerns regarding the security of our election?

“We all want to make sure there is integrity of our elections and make sure every vote is counted and make sure nobody is a victim of voter suppression,” Tipirneni said.

That said, Tipirneni said she is confident Arizona is taking necessary precautions.

“We’ve been effectively doing this for many years,” Tipirneni said. “We have over 80% of our electors that vote by mail, so I am confident that all of the appropriate safeguards are in place.”

She also said she will continue to advocate for election security and encourages all Arizonans to vote by mail or vote safely in person.

“We want everybody to make sure they get out there and vote,” Tipirneni said.

How could race relations be improved in Arizona?

Tipirneni said it starts with listening to individuals who have been on the oppressive side of racial injustice.

“We need to hear it from the families that have experienced this day in and day out,” she said.

She said by listening to their stories, we will be able to understand their issues and the history of racism. She said once we understand that, we need to look at the bigger picture.

The core issues are symptoms of the bigger picture, Tipirneni said, pointing to discriminatory housing practices, educational inequities and disparities in health care delivery.

Once people look at those issues, they can address the root causes, she said.

What is the greatest issue Arizona residents face, and how would you address it?

“The biggest issue that I’m hearing day in and day out … is the concern about health care,” the emergency room physician said.

She said Arizonans should be able to afford health insurance, expect adequate health care benefits from their employers and continue that insurance even if they lose their job.

Tipirneni also said she would work to protect Social Security and Medicare benefits. She said that sense of security helps older Arizonans stay healthy and pay the bills.

She said the pandemic exposed weaknesses of the health care system, and it’s beginning to be “disappointing and frustrating.”

What other issues are important to you and your campaign?

Tipirneni cited economic security and said she would work to make sure Arizona communities have well-paying jobs, including jobs for recent college graduates.

“We have a chance to invest in our local economy,” she said.

She would push to grow the renewable energy economy and create jobs in those areas, she said.

Tipirneni also called tor tax reforms for working and middle-class families, not just corporations.

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What in your past work, political or volunteer experience makes you a better candidate to hold this office?

The physician said her skills in research and advocacy make her a better candidate.

“I spent my whole life essentially working on teams … and solving very complex problems, and that’s what we’re supposed to be electing our leaders in D.C. to do.”

Tipirneni said her work in the ER helps her understand why people fall through the cracks.

Thinking of her responsibilities in Congress, she was reminded of an oath she took as a medical doctor.

“It comes down to the oath I took on day one … it was not only to do no harm but to specifically serve others and to put people first.”

What is a personal challenge you feel you need to overcome?

Tipirneni said she wants to make sure her kids are protected throughout this election.

“My children have been exposed to a lot in this campaign, most of it is good … but unfortunately, there’s social media, which allows folks to say some pretty mean things,” she said.

She explained that her three children are very protective of her, and she wants them to stay focused. She knows people will say hurtful things, but she won’t let that stop her and her fight to get to Congress.

Please share a quote or advice that you live by

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

She said that to create change, it starts with one voice, and that allows for that one voice to feed onto others.

Tipirneni said she was tired of being angry, and she felt it was her responsibility to run in this election so she could make a change in the world.

“I want to remind everyone that you have the power, you have the passion, you have your voice … use it.”

Campaign website: hiralforcongress.com