Congressman Jim Hagedorn's Watonwan County Town Hall meeting in Madelia on Oct. 9th was the eighth of a 21-county town hall series. One of the submitted questions of the evening asked what specific legislation he proposes to approach the gun violence epidemic in the country.
“Enforce the laws that are in the books,” Hagedorn answered. “Make sure that the [laws] that are there are prosecuted properly. Keep the bad guys out the streets. Keep the guns away from the people that aren't supposed to have them. But I'm not for more laws on top of laws to take away the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Pretty clear about that.”
“So, do nothing,” came from an individual in the crowd of more than 60 residents.
Gun rights were among the topics addressed by the Blue Earth Republican during the question-and-answer portion of the meeting. Other issues included healthcare, veteran services, renewable fuels, immigration, and Trump, where several residents confronted Hagedorn's responses.
Viktoria Davis, the only optometrist in the Madelia area, wanted to know what Hagedorn would do to reduce the unfairness behind different reimbursements amounts from insurance companies for the same services.
Hagedorn stated, in the last five or six years since the Affordable Care Act, there has been a loss of opportunity and competition in the district over premiums. Davis stood up to confirm her question had nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act.
According to Davis, the best-paying insurance reimburses her $186.11, and low-paying insurance reimburses $76.50 for the same service. “I am obligated, both morally and professionally, to provide the exact same service for these patients. How is that fair to either me or to my patients?”
Hagedorn stated a single-payer health insurance system isn't the answer. “We can't sustain medicine, the quality medicine that we have in this country if we're taking money out of the system.”
Watonwan County Commissioner Jim Branstad stated the vitality and survivorship of Watonwan and its cities depend on the immigrant workforce, documented and otherwise. He questioned what will be done to ensure their protection and sustainability.
“The first thing, we have to have a system of legal immigration,” said Hagedorn.
Branstad agreed but wanted to know, if the estimated 11 million people depended on in the agricultural industry were to be deported, what would it do to the county and state's economy? Hagedorn said the country needs biometrics, matching images of workers to their legal status in a registry, and improve the E-verify system to check worker's immigration status.
Congressman Hagedorn ended the meeting discussing the United States-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement. He said there needs to be pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring up it up for a vote in the next few months, or the opportunity will be lost.