DelBene hosts community forum

February 24, 2019
Community forumU.S. Rep Suzan DelBene holds a community forum Saturday at the Skagit Public Utility District building in Mount Vernon.

MOUNT VERNON — Affordable health care and immigration reform were the major issues brought up Saturday at a community forum hosted by U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene.

The forum, held at the Skagit Public Utility District offices, drew about 60 people.

DelBene represents Washington’s 1st Congressional District, which includes parts of Skagit, Whatcom, Snohomish and King counties.

After opening remarks about the importance of listening to diverse perspectives, DelBene opened the floor to those in attendance.

For John Smith, solving the complex issue of health care comes down to offering Medicare to all.

The Clear Lake resident pointed to the Medicare for All Caucus as a group that is working toward that goal.

“I would urge you to at least be cognizant of what they’re doing so we can move in a direction of simplifying health care and dis-involving the insurance companies who wormed their way into the (Affordable Care Act),” Smith said.

Though DelBene didn’t say universal Medicare coverage was the answer, she agreed everyone should have access to affordable health care.

“As the Legislature, the question is how do we get there?” she said.

Steve Dundin of Conway pressed DelBene further, asking her whether she thought health care should be made available to all U.S. citizens or anyone who crosses the border.

DelBene said everyone, regardless of citizenship, should be able to receive affordable health care.

As travelers, U.S. citizens are able to receive quality health care in other countries, she said. And in some cases, providing health care is a lot cheaper than not, as is the case when going to the emergency room.

In response to other health care questions, DelBene said she believes mental health is health care and that women should be able to make their own health care decisions.

DelBene’s stance on immigration is that comprehensive immigration reform is needed.

Susan Wells of Catholic Community Services said she’s been working with families who have had family members detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Her question to DelBene was whether there is any oversight about who ICE targets, as those Wells comes in contact with are working class people, not criminals.

DelBene responded that there absolutely needs to be oversight.

“We’ve heard from students right here in Skagit County who are afraid to go to school,” she said. “I don’t disagree that our immigration system is broken.”

Climate change, the impact of tariffs and effective investments were also topics of discussion.

A full video of the forum can be found on DelBene’s Facebook page, facebook.com/RepDelBene.