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In his small hometown, Arizona's Jeff Flake faces perils and pressure of Senate healthcare debate

Ron McArthur is a man with big plans.

As head of the chief medical provider in this rural slice of eastern Arizona, McArthur firmly believes what’s good for Summit Healthcare is good for communities tucked in the foothills of the White Mountains. “We’re the economic engine,” he said. “We sponsor everything, we’re the biggest employer, we offer the highest-paying jobs.”

But right now, he said, a proposed surgery center and other expansion plans are imperiled by Republican efforts to drastically overhaul the nation’s healthcare system, leaving the state’s GOP lawmakers to choose, as McArthur sees it, between party loyalty and their hard-pressed constituents.

Snowflake Mayor Lynn Johnson is one of those constituents.

He runs a physical therapy practice that has suffered, he said, a double whammy under the healthcare law signed by President Obama. Johnson receives less for each patient he treats under Medicare and Medicaid and pays more to insure his employees.

“You used to be able to make a decent living,” Johnson said. “Now you’re fighting for everything you get.”

All of which leaves Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona in a tough spot.

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