U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings focused much of his time on health care reform as he spoke Tuesday at the Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's monthly meeting.
Hastings made his stance clear.
"I am opposed ... to a government-run health care plan," he told the audience of about 50. "I think we have a very good health care system in this country."
Hastings touted the traditional patient-physician relationship and said a government-run plan would put bureaucracy between people and their doctors.
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None of the bills being considered in Congress mandate a single-payer, government-run health care system. However, Hastings believes a public option subsidized by tax dollars would eventually squeeze private insurers out of the market.
The Pasco-raised Republican acknowledged that private insurance companies often dictate what type of care patients receive in the U.S. but said the answer isn't a taxpayer-paid health care option.
He said Americans deserve more choices when it comes to health care, such as small businesses being able to band together to purchase larger plans, or individuals being able to claim insurance costs as tax-deductible.
Laura Maldonado, who was attending her first Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce meeting, said she found Hastings' comments insightful.
"I'm just starting to go in-depth," she said about health care reform. "I was oblivious to what was going on."
Maldonado said she's against the bills circulating in Congress because she's worried about the bills' price tags - estimated to be upward of $1 trillion.
Jeanne McPherson, also attending her first meeting, wasn't impressed with Hastings or his comments on health care reform.
"It was very difficult for me to listen to him because it was quite a gloss," she said.
Hastings fielded several question from the audience, but McPherson didn't ask one.
"What good would it do?" she said. "We know his stance."
She also said health care reform is too broad a subject to be tackled in a short speech and question session.
Other audience members asked Hastings about his stance on immigration. Hastings said immigration reform can't be achieved without a "comprehensive plan."
Asked to elaborate, Hastings said comprehensive immigration reform includes creating guest-worker provisions, deportation standards, revamped laws for how illegal immigrants can become U.S. citizens.
He discussed possibly incorporating a sort of "DREAM Act," which would give certain teens residing in the U.S. illegally but who graduate from high school and earn a college degree a way toward citizenship.
Hastings also spoke about not removing dams along the Snake River, his dislike of "cap and trade" emissions reduction legislation and securing future Hanford funding.