Herrera-Beutler on health care, Trump, town halls

The US representative for Southwest Washington was in Vancouver Tuesday

US Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler in Vancouver, April 18, 2017 (KOIN)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Whether touring a county jail or joining a medical roundtable on battling drug-resistant superbugs, Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler continues asking and answering questions.

Herrera-Beutler was one of the Republicans who publicly opposed the GOP health care plan that was pulled before it even got a vote. But she is still pursuing a replacement for Obamacare.

“We continue to hear people say we cannot afford access to health care,” the congresswoman told KOIN 6 News. “Even if you can get a plan on the exchange, affording it is another thing.”

President Trump’s proposed budget calls for significant cuts to medical research and the Meals on Wheels program. Herrera-Beutler said she’s going to “continue to support those things. It’s a small public investment for a great public outcome.”

US Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler in Vancouver, April 18, 2017 (KOIN)
US Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler in Vancouver, April 18, 2017 (KOIN)

During this congressional recess, elected officials are back in their home districts holding town halls — often in packed gymnasiums or auditoriums. She told KOIN 6 News she’s held more than 65 in-person town halls since being elected in 20111.

But some of her constituents, including Beth Lee, want more.

“We thought maybe she forgot how to meet face-to-face,” Lee said. “She either has an invitation-only coffee or she has a telephone town hall where you’re highly screened and the answers are highly controlled.”

Lee and others are behind a forum set for Thursday evening at Clark College. They rented a 250-seat venue hoping Herrera-Beutle would come.

“We invited her 3 months ago and initially she evaded us,” Lee said. “And then she kind of wishy-washied it and then this last week she said, no, she will not be attending.”

The congresswoman said she’s already met with some of the leaders of the group and continues to make every effort to make sure she’s hearing from all the people she serves.

“Like I said, I’ve done over 65 in-person town hall meetings, and I’m going to continue to do that.”