Immigration reform, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and gun control were three of the major topics addressed by Republican U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley during a town hall meeting in Glenwood last Monday, July 1.
Grassley fielded questions for an hour from an audience of about 75 people at the Senior Center.
The senator answered several questions about the effects the Affordable Care Act will have on Iowans.
A woman in the audience told Grassley she has concerns about the impact “Obamacare” will have on Medicare coverage for her elderly parents and was hopeful the healthcare law won’t end up being a “kick in the behind.”
“People that are on Medicare are going to stay on Medicare,” Grassley said. “We’re taking $750 billion out of Medicare to finance Obamacare. That’s the only way Medicare was affected.
I hope you don’t get kicked in the behind, too, but if you do, it’s not because of Obamacare, it will be something else that comes along, but I hope that doesn’t happen.”
An audience member asked Grassley if immigration reform will open up ACA benefits to (current) illegal immigrants who decide to seek citizenship.
“They could not qualify for any programs during that 10-year period of legalization, because they have to be here 10 years before they can apply for citizenship,” Grassley said.
Grassley called the ACA’s funding formula for health insurance premium subsidies “liberal.”
“Obamacare says if you’re under 400 percent of poverty, you can get a subsidy for your healthcare insurance,” Grassley said. “In New York, it’s $90,000. In Iowa, it would be $60,000.”
Grassley said the primary opposition he has with the push for stronger gun control laws and background checks for firearms sales is that many states aren’t providing their lists of felons and mentally ill residents to the National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS).
“Only about 12 or 13 states report all of their felons to NICS. Even a smaller number report judicially-determined mental illness,” Grassley said. “If you’re going to have more background checks and the names aren’t in there (NICS), what good is it going to do?”
Grassley said an amendment he drafted for the failed Senate bill on gun control would strip federal funds from states that fail to report their felons and cases of mental illness to NICS.