Anxious voters talk North Korea, health care at Hirono town hall - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Anxious voters talk North Korea, health care at Hirono town hall

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KAIMUKI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

In a crowded town hall Saturday, residents peppered U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono with a host of questions about local and national issues, from health care to North Korea to Oahu's beleaguered rail project.

More than 100 people turned out for the meeting at Kaimuki High School.Health care was a frequent topic during the gathering.

Hirono told attendees she'd work with colleagues in the Senate to protect Medicaid, in the wake of the House vote to repeal Obamacare and replace with the American Health Care Act.

"We have articulated our position on Trumpcare and that is a no go," she said. "If we're going to make health care better we should make the Affordable Care Act better."

During the hour and a half-long meeting, North Korea targeting Hawaii was another hot button issue.

"What are we doing to make Hawaii safe so we all don't have to be worried about North Korea's instability?" asked one constituent.

Hirono answered: "We're not going to be able to militarily fight our way out of this. It is a diplomatic resolution that's going to involve the U.S., China and our allies to do everything we can to bring about a peaceful resolution."

Voters also expressed frustration about President Trump's efforts to increase military spending by $54 billion.

"How much money do we need at the expense of social programs to continue our endless wars in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan?" asked another attendee.

"The Democrats are going to fight that imbalance," Hirono responded.

Also Saturday, after the president issued an executive order last month to review a list of national monuments, Hawaii residents say they were pleased to hear Hirono voice her continued support on the expansion of Papahanaumokuakea. 

"It is a treasure in our backyard that deserves to remain protected," said attendee Narrisa Spies. "I was very encouraged to hear that she still supports keeping the monument protected."

At the end of the meeting, Hirono addressed the state Legislature's failure to come up with a plan to fill the funding shortfall for Honolulu rail.

"Maybe a little cooling off period needs to occur and I hope people can come together and come up with a way forward because the federal money is there," she said.

Hirono also held a second town hall meeting Saturday on Kauai.

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