King talks immigration, healthcare, disaster relief during Stanhope visit

— Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Teresa Wood
US Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, speaks with Kirk McCullough and Rogers Hughes, both of Webster City, following the Stanhope Town Hall Monday afternoon. The meeting drew about 30 people and is one of the 39 town hall meetings King, who represents Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, has pledged to hold this year.

STANHOPE — U.S. Rep. Steve King touched on health care, immigration and disaster relief during a town hall meeting at the Stanhope Community Center Monday.

King, a Republican from Kiron, represents the 4th Congressional District. He said he is working with U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst to help get disaster aid to Iowa counties impacted by the March floods.

“The spirit of Iowa is strong,” King told the assembly of about 30 people. “I am proud of how we Iowans react to disaster.”

During the town hall, Hamilton County Supervisor Rick Young said that without Federal Emergency Management Agency funding the county is nearing the end of its resources in dealing with its own flood-related damage. He said initial damage costs were estimated at $89,000, but those costs are now approaching $500,000.

When he moved on to talk about immigration issues, King said the topic is complicated.

“I have never seen anything like it before and it is balled up in so many ways,” he said. “We are not in control of our own borders.”

Donna Luppes, of Webster City, asked why the Republicans don’t show more support for President Donald Trump.

“The GOP is not bold enough,” King said. “They are not strong enough.”

He said two issues support that statement: first is the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which is often referred to as Obamacare.

There are Republicans who want to have a policy to replace the ACA before they repeal it, King said. He supports letting the repeal bill stand alone. Then, one after the other, replacement of the bill’s provisions would happen as needed.

The second issue is the construction of a wall along the southern U.S. border, he said. “Trump doesn’t have supporters with the same visions and convictions.”

King also talked about the financial struggles of health care facilities in rural communities, saying the origin of the troubles is rooted in a 1992 health care program that put the government in charge of its management and administration.

He cited unnamed authorities in health care who have reported that Medicaid is more stable than some people think, and that states are better equipped to manage insurance health care.

He advocates several remedies:

• Consumers should be able to buy tax-free, full-coverage policies.

• Critical access hospitals, especially in rural areas, should be protected.

• Consumers should be allowed to purchase health care policies across state lines.

• The prescription drug market should be opened up to help bring down medicine costs.

Jim Talbot, of Webster City, asked King about a January story in the New York Times that included King’s reference to white nationalists and white supremacists.

King answered by relating a lengthy story. In May 2017, an orthopedic surgeon from Dakota Dunes, Iowa, asked King to help bring three critically injured youths from Tanzania to Sioux City where they could receive medical treatment following an accident that killed everyone else on their school bus.

In Albania at the time, King said he arranged passports, visas and transports for the children, an accompanying adult and two doctors from Meyer’s Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries. The Rev. Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse flew and financed the flight to Iowa where they were treated for more than 25 serious fractures. The children were flown back home to Tanzania in August.

“It was such a happy time,” said King. “It was a proud and joyous day.”

King said he and his wife Marilyn have sponsored three annual scholarships for students in Tanzania over the years.

The Congressman said it was a privilege to serve as one participant in that story and he questioned why he has been targeted as a racist.

While the fall-out of his NYT interview resulted in King being stripped of his Congressional committee assignments, he vows to fight back. He said he’s gathering supporters who know him personally and will stand beside him as he seeks reinstatement.

“I don’t intend to let this go on,” he said.