U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin tackles affordable healthcare, student debt and more at first town hall meeting

U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin fulfilled one of her campaign promises on Thursday, March 21, 2019, as she held her first town hall meeting of the year. She promised in her campaign that she would hold one every three months.

The town hall meeting, which was hosted by the Oakland University Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), took place in the Oakland Center and was open to the public, who were encouraged to ask Slotkin questions.

“The Center for Civic Engagement has a goal of making OU known as a convener of conversations, and events like this helps us work toward that,” said David Dulio, director for the CCE. “The conversation between a representative and their constituents is arguably the most important conversation there is in a democracy.”

Slotkin began the town hall meeting by talking about the issues she hears about the most, which are also the reason she got in this race — the price of healthcare and prescription drugs.

“Everyone has the right to health care that they can afford,” Slotkin said. “We have to get away from this idea that the only way to have insurance is to be tied to an employer.”

Based on recent dramatic price increases on EpiPens and insulin, Slotkin said she wants to focus a lot of her initiatives on prescription drug prices.

“I sponsored a bill that says Medicare should be able to negotiate for drug prices,” Slotkin said.

She emphasized she would have people coming up to her in Kroger telling her they cannot afford insulin for their child due to predatory price increases.

“The second bill related to drugs that I co-sponsored was called the Flat Pricing Bill,” Slotkin said. “This bill penalizes any company that increases the price of their drug by more than 10 percent in one calendar year.”

Another issue addressed was student debt, after an OU student asked Slotkin about it. She said a young adult’s outlook on what they want to do with their life is controlled by having a steep monthly student loan payment hanging over their heads.

“We should never be holding people back like that,” Slotkin said. “A student loan should be capped at 2.5 percent.”

With Slotkin’s background as a CIA officer and Pentagon official, much of her life has been about preventing homeland attacks, which led the conversation into immigration and gun control.

“Our immigration system is broken, it’s not working for anyone,” she said. “This should not be a political issue between one party or the other. I actually support enhanced border security, I just want to be smart about it.”

Slotkin said she focuses on the common ground when it comes to gun control, which is universal background checks and closing all loopholes for people who want to buy guns, whether at a gun shop or online.

Slotkin addressed climate change as something that needs action taken by the government.

“If we build it into the market… if there are financial incentives to do it, you will see people getting on that train,” Slotkin said.

As the conversation closed, Slotkin said addressing questions about different issues made her hopeful for the future.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us on these issues,” Slotkin said. “I feel particularly hopeful because I am a part of a class of over 100 new members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans — and we are a different breed with a different mission sent to Washington to get something done.”