The issue of health care reform has been polarizing throughout New Jersey and the country. The Hamilton school district has announced to its substitute teachers that they will be working four days a week or less so the district won’t have to offer them health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, which is being phased in. Although the goal of the Affordable Care Act is to keep rising health care costs down, a new study for the Kaiser Family Foundation found the cost of employer-sponsored plans rose 4 percent over the past year for families and 5 percent for individuals. Congressman Leonard Lance told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he believes the act should be repealed and replaced. He also said he wants the United States to secure its southern border and work on immigration reform.
Lance said he’s in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act, but wants to replace it. “I do not want to return to the status quo before the act was put into place, but I think based upon the figures you have cited that we should repeal it and replace it with a common sense alternative,” he said.
The congressman said he hopes repealing the act becomes imperative over the next several months, particularly since the new health care legislation is scheduled to go into effect in the near future.
Immigration is another issue on Lance’s radar. He recently took a tour of the southern border, where he saw a dead body floating in the Rio Grande River in South Texas. “The authorities told us later that this was a Honduran and it was almost sure that it was related to drug trafficking, to the terrible drug cartels that exist in that part of the world,” he explained.
Lance said he is willing to discuss changes to immigration law, but believes the southern border must first be secured. After legislation is approved to secure the border, Lance said the next area would be granting visas for individuals involved in science, technology, engineering and math — the so-called STEM areas. He added that the third component would be addressing the situation of infants and children who arrived in the U.S. illegally.
“I am open to discussing whether or not they should be granted some sort of citizenship. I don’t think that that is a given yet. I would like to hear more about that. And then, Michael, the most difficult component is those who came here illegally as adults. I am extremely reluctant to grant citizenship to that type of person because I believe deeply in the rule of law,” Lance said.
Some have suggested that the U.S. have a foreign worker program. Lance said lawmakers might examine that idea and he is open to it. “But there are some in the Congress who believe that there should be a path to citizenship and I am reluctant in that regard, particularly given the fact that there are many waiting in line patiently to come to this country legally to gain citizenship that way,” he said.
In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to many people and some viewed it as a blessing. But Lance pointed out that the reform promised border security that did not occur.
When asked how border security could be achieved, Lance said, “Not necessarily troops. And fencing is one aspect, but also we have aerial technology, drones, evader technology on those drones, black hawk helicopters. There are a series of ways electronically and a fence as well. But a fence is not appropriate in all areas of the border. It will take a multifaceted approach.”