Congressman Farenthold on health care, immigration (video)

Elena Watts By Elena Watts

Aug. 9, 2013 at 3:09 a.m.
Updated Aug. 10, 2013 at 3:10 a.m.

The Rev. Gabriel Franks, of Victoria, wants changes in health care and believes the Affordable Care Act is the answer.

The retired Catholic priest was among about 50 people who attended Friday's open house at U.S. Congressman Blake Farenthold's Victoria district office.

The hot topics were health care and immigration.

Franks used a personal health care experience to illustrate his desire for less expensive health care.

"I'm far from unique in this," Franks said. "The March 4 edition of Time magazine was dedicated to the horrors of our present health care system."

He pointed out that the United Kingdom pays half as much as the United States for health care with better statistical outcomes.

Farenthold disagreed with Franks that single-payer systems in countries such as Great Britain and Canada were better.

"You wait a lot longer for services there than you do here," he said.

The current health care system has lost competition and transparency, Farenthold said.

The big problem with medical care is that people stopped knowing the costs of the services performed by their doctors, Farenthold said.

Overcrowded emergency rooms are another problem. Farenthold supports the community health centers that are part of Obamacare, as long as funding changes are made.

Emergency room personnel would be able to send patients without life-threatening injuries to health centers without fear of being sued, he said.

Social workers employed by the centers could monitor patients after their release to ensure they follow health care recommendations.

Others in the audience were concerned about immigration.

Carlos Duarte, doctoral candidate and Texas state director of Mi Familia Vota, has lived in the country legally for 17 years. He said everyone should be against illegal immigration.

"The worst case scenario is what we have right now with 11 million people in the country, and we do not know who they are," Duarte said.

He agreed with worker programs, securing the border and systems such as E-verify, an online database of Social Security numbers to reduce fraud and illegal immigration.

His concern was for the millions of parents of the "Dreamers," supporters of the Dream Act, who are essential to their families.

"Of course, we want to keep families intact. The kids need that support," Duarte said. "Can you imagine what it is like growing up in a family where you know your parents could be deported at any time? How can those kids succeed?"

The border must be secured first, Farenthold said. And the U.S. cannot provide amnesty to those who are in the country illegally.

"We cannot reward illegal behavior, or the message we send is: If you can get across the border, wait us out, and we'll give you citizenship in the future," he said.



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