Filner discusses health care, immigration at breakfast
Congressmember calls Arizona’s new immigration law ‘un-American’
Published Thursday, 06-May-2010 in issue 1167
Representative Bob Filner discussed health care, immigration and military policy at a breakfast at the San Diego LGBT Community Center, last Friday.
First on the representative’s agenda was the recently passed national health care legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, both signed by President Obama last March.
Challenging Republicans who are seeking to repeal the legislation, Filner said, “Try to repeal it. Try to repeal the fact that in the first time in our history, kids who have preexisting conditions whether it’s from a birth defect or asthma will be able to get health insurance for the first time. Try to repeal the fact that seniors will now have full access to prescription drugs, as they don’t now because of the way it was originally passed. Try to repeal the fact that insurance companies can’t put a cap on your health care or can’t just knock [it] up because you’re spending too much money.”
The legislative provisions that Filner mentioned took effect immediately after Obama signed the bills, but there are a number of other elements that won’t take effect until 2014 and include requiring most people to obtain health insurance, the development of a “health insurance exchange” that will help people compare prices between different insurance policies and government subsidies to make health insurance more affordable for people to purchase.
While Filner said that he was happy with a number of the bills’ provisions, he did say they had one major problem: keeping insurance companies intact.
“I frankly don’t understand myself why we need insurance companies in the first place. I mean, come on, they are the middle guys,” Filner said. “I think the best way we can make it better is to [take the insurance companies out of the equation].”
“Medicare has a 3 percent overhead cost. Compare that to the 15 or 20 percent that most insurance companies claim,” he added.
Filner next spoke about Arizona’s new immigration law, called Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, which makes it a misdemeanor for Arizonian immigrants to be in the state without carrying documentation proving their legal status and requires police officers to detain people they suspect are illegally in the country. Critics have said the law will lead to official racial profiling. Thousands of people took to streets across the nation last Sunday to protest the legislation.
Filner said the law was as “un-American as you can imagine.”
One person in the audience of nearly 100 didn’t think so and spoke out while Filner was speaking.
“That’s not true!” yelled Santee resident Mark Chamber.
Filner told Chamber he was wrong and explained why.
“Number one, if you talk to any police chief, sheriff, any cop; they don’t want this law. They don’t want to enforce something that is clearly difficult to enforce,” Filner said. “If you’re guilty because you’re driving while black and now walking while brown, that’s going to stop the kind of communication and cooperation that police officers need to [solve] real crime.”
Filner suggested that the law had characteristics of a fascist government.
“What distinguishes us Americans from any other nation in the world is that we don’t need no stinkin’ papers,” Filner said. “We do not have to produce papers in America because papers mean you live in a totalitarian state.”
Chambers then held up his driver’s license and Filner said, “Do you have your papers? Do you have your papers? That’s a driver’s license. I can prove that’s forged!”
“We have to worry about this. The gay community has to worry about this. Once you go after one group, you go after another,” Filner said.
The Congressmember also commented on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the military law banning service members from openly serving as gay or lesbian.
Last march, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that the military would no longer investigate a service members’ sexual orientation based on anonymous tips and now will require higher-level officers to initiate discharge proceedings. Gates also announced at the time that the military would conduct a study (due Dec. 1) on how the Defense Department could effectively lift the ban. Meanwhile, both branches of Congress have introduced bills to repeal the law. Last Friday, Gates warned Congress to not pass any legislation until his department is ready to implement it.
Filner said congress should repeal the law immediately and criticized legislators that continually say, ‘its not the right time.’
“You know, ‘It’s never the right time.’ How many years have you heard that about everything? ‘We’ve got to wait till after the elections,’ and then after the elections, they’ll be another election, so then ‘we got to wait ’til then,’” Filner said. “Let’s just do the right thing.”