By Michael Schaffer Managing Editor
The Daily Iowegian
---- — Rep. Dave Loebsack, of Mount Vernon, who represents residents in Iowa's District 2, which includes Appanoose County, paid a visit to Centerville Friday that was announced to the press approximately 24-hours before the visit.
Eight did attend Loebsack's "Investing in Iowa's Rural Economy Tour" at the Iowa State University Extension office in Centerville that covered farm issues and the Affordable Care Act, casually known as ObamaCare.
After the meeting, one ISU Extension office worker questioned why it wasn't more advertised until she realized it was in Friday's Daily Iowegian. The Daily Iowegian first learned about Rep. Loebsack's Centerville visit Thursday morning and published it in its first available edition.
The 62 minute discussion started out on the Farm Bill, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Conservation Reserve Program.
The need for a Farm Bill was unanimous. How to get one done and what should be in it was a matter of difference.
Crop insurance stays by all accounts. High CRP rental rates were criticized as was SNAP.
Dan Furlin, of Numa, said CRP rental rates are anywhere from $65 to $180 an acre, which harms cattleman and those who want to farm more acres but cannot compete with those prices.
"CRP is the biggest killer of rural development here in southern Iowa than there is of anything," Furlin said. "CRP is killing us."
CRP is a government program that pays farmers to not put land into agricultural production.
Loebsack called SNAP cuts "the elephant in the room" when it comes to how far apart the U.S. Senate and House are on the Farm Bill.
"But I can tell you, if we don't resolve that issue, I don't know how we get a five-year Farm Bill per se," Loebsack said.
The difference is the House now wants $39 billion over 10 years in SNAP cuts and the Senate is holding to its original $4-4 1/2 billion in cuts. The House at one time had asked for $21 1/2 billion in SNAP cuts.
"I'm not saying one side is totally at fault," Loebsack, who is a Democrat, said. "But that isn't the way you get to some kind of a compromise."
Loebsack said he hopes to see a five-year Farm Bill passed by the end of the year.
Mark McGill, of Udell, fired the first salvo against ObamaCare. He cited a news story that said 3.5 million Americans have been given health care insurance termination notices.
"I was under the interpretation if you liked your policy you could keep it," McGill said. "They say in the next 38 days that number will more than double of people getting their cancellations."
McGill then posed this question: What happens to a family whose insurance has been terminated and they have a medical catastrophe while they are waiting for the federal government to figure it out?
Loebsack called that "a good question." He said the federal government right now doesn't have a contingency plan to cover that situation.
"At a minimum what we ought to do is extend the enrollment period for as long as people cannot get on the website to get enrolled," Loebsack said.
"But these people are already out of insurance," McGill said.
"I understand that," Loebsack said.
Loebsack said the question now is for the folks in limbo between no health care insurance and getting an insurance.
"But eventually they'll get another policy but there's a time frame in there," Loebsack said. "And to be honest, I don't know what the answer is right now for that. And it's a bad situation."
Loebsack said this week the House is expected to vote on a bill that would ensure Americans who have health care insurance would be able to keep their policy. Something, Loebsack said, he thought was going to happen when he voted to approve ACA.
"I voted for the bill (ACA)," Loebsack said. "And when I voted for it I thought that's exactly what was going to happen. That if you had something and you were OK with it, then you get to keep it. And obviously it doesn't turn out that way. And so clearly we've got to figure out a way to deal with this. It's a bad situation for a lot of people."
Loebsack said the ACA's design was to get 30 million Americans health care insurance. He said people will be paying higher premiums then they were before but it will be on a plan with a lot more benefits to justify the extra cost.
Blake White, of Centerville, said his health care insurance costs went up and he didn't move up to a better plan. He said it was not just "standard increases" and cited higher fees, the fact he and his wife are younger and now insurance companies have to account for pre-existing conditions.
At the end of the meeting, Loebsack talked about partisanship in Washington, the need for bipartisanship in order to get things done and listening to your constituents.
"I think that very few of you agree with me on very many things, from what I can tell here," Loebsack said. "But the idea is for me to hear that from you and go from there. The idea is for people who don't agree with you, instead of sitting around and talking to people I agree with all of the time, I've got to be talking to people I don't agree with, necessarily. So, when we find the 10 or 15 percent of the things that we can agree on, we actually can do it and move forward."
Rep. Loebsack assumed office in January 2007.