Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 16, 2018

Ernst takes questions from all sides

By David Hotle | Aug 16, 2017
Teri Finley asks Sen. Joni Ernst a question during a town hall meeting held in Washington Tuesday afternoon. About 150 people attended the event.


When Sen. Joni Ernst, R- Iowa, held a town hall meeting held in the Washington Performing Arts and Events Center Tuesday afternoon several topics were addressed by members of the audience, but the big question on the minds of many who attended the event seemed to be health care.

About 150 people, some having driven over an hour to the event, were given cards that were chosen at random to determine the order of questions. Ernst declined to give and opening statement, saying that the meeting was so people could ask her questions about topics of their choice. The first questions, from Harold Frakes of Brighton, dealt with changes needed to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Ernst recounted a story about a family that had to pay $34,000 per year in premiums for ACA. She said the Senate and House are working in a bipartisan manner to determine changes.

“That may not solve all the problems; it will be a start,” she said. “I simply refuse to think that $34,000 per year in premiums for a young family of four is acceptable. Maybe that is acceptable for some, but it is not for me.”

She also fielded a question regarding subsidies in the health care marketplace, saying Congress needs to stabilize the insurance market. She said several ways of doing that are being explored. She also spoke of programs that would allow someone leaving a job to take their health insurance with them.

Ernst said she hoped to vote for what she felt was the best health care policy for her constituents, saying she wanted a plan that is fiscally sound and responsible. She stressed in talking about the ACA, the discussion is not about health care, but health insurance. She said one thing that was never addressed was the cost of health care. She said the cost of prescription medication is continuing to go up, and the issue has not been addressed. She predicted as long as the cost of health care isn’t addressed, the cost of health insurance would continue to go up no matter what health insurance plan is in place.

Washington County supervisor Jack Seward Jr. spoke about the need of getting government out of the insurance business and letting the free market take care of insurance.

“I’m perfectly fine with my tax money going to help those people who are in catastrophic situations or long-term chronic situations,” he said.

Jim Gorham of Washington asked if Ernst felt it is fair to repeal the ACA and Medicare, then give the $800 billion savings to “wealthy billionaires.” Ernst said the Legislature should not do that, but needs to be certain Medicare is sustainable over the long term.

Later in the meeting Alexandra Rucinski of Burlington attacked Ernst over her vote to defund Planned Parenthood, saying that thousands of Iowa women had lost health care because of the action.

“You have hurt us,” Rucinski said. “I want you to look at me, because I represent thousands of Iowans who have lost health care — women’s health care. A vital resource that was taken away because of a decision you made. I want you to know you have hurt us.”

Questions regarding immigration were also fielded at the event. Ernst said America is a nation of immigrants.

“I agree with the stance that we need to control our borders,” she said. “I think we should have a smart immigration policy which allows immigrants to come in through the legal channels.”

During a question regarding the actions of President Donald Trump, Ernst said she believes Russia had tampered with the U.S. election, but had not modified the voting numbers.


Comments (1)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Aug 16, 2017 16:48
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