NBC Channel 5 Tri-Cities: Senator Lamar Alexander visits Bristol

Posted on April 18, 2017

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) made a stop in Bristol, Va. on Tuesday. News 5's Kristi O'Connor spoke to him about several topics he and other Americans are concerned about, before he toured the Birthplace of Country Music Museum for the first time.

He explained that his biggest concern for the people of Sullivan County is health care. As we reported, the president's plan to revamp Obamacare did not pass earlier this year.

Senator Alexander says Congress needs to act, before 5,000 people in Sullivan County who rely on Obamacare subsidies are out of options. He says insurance companies are pulling out of the system and there will not be any companies left by 2018.
That is why he and U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) introduced a new bill.

"If any citizen ends up with zero insurance options that they can buy insurance that's approved by the state, off the exchange," Alexander said.

The legislation would also waive the penalty for people who rely on subsidies and do not buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Senator Alexander also was in Elizabethton before visiting Bristol. He says 1,700 Carter County residents will struggle finding health care options in 2018 if Congress does not act.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence is in Asia defusing tensions with North Korea and Senator Alexander is weighing in.

He said North Korea and its nuclear program is America's most serious problem right now. We asked him what he thought about the way the Trump administration has approached foreign relations.
He says Trump has sent a strong show of force in North Korea, Syria and Afghanistan. To stop North Korea's nuclear weapon program, he says we need to get our allies, like China, on board.

"We simply cannot allow North Korea miniature nuclear weapons that they can put a continental ballistic missile in Seattle or Anchorage or some other part in the U.S.," Alexander said.

He said he agrees with the U.S.'s attack on the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons against innocent people, but in the future, he wants Congress to debate before any decisions are made.