Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) hosted a briefing today in conjunction with the Council for Affordable Health Coverage to educate congressional staff on significant concerns with the Affordable Care Act’s Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) Program. With a panel of health insurance experts, attendees discussed an overview of CO-OPs, their challenges, and next steps.
“Nebraskans know firsthand the hardships caused by failures of the Obamacare CO-OP Program,” Smith said. “CoOportunity Health's liquidation has left 80,000 Nebraskans once again looking for new insurance. Just last week, the Louisiana Health Cooperative announced it would shut down in 2016 due to financial insolvency. In fact, only one of 23 Obamacare CO-OPs made a profit in 2014, and it is predicted several more will collapse within the next few years.
“This failing program has already placed billions of taxpayer dollars on the line and could result in millions of people losing their insurance. I have asked the Department of Health and Human Services many questions about this troubling situation and continue to try to gather information and answers. In the meantime, I am committed to addressing this issue in Washington.”
Grace-Marie Turner President, Galen Institute
William G. Schiffbauer Esquire, Schiffbauer Law Office
John Greene Vice President of Congressional Affairs, National Association of Health Underwriters
Michelle Stevens Senior Vice President, Council for Affordable Health Coverage
Congressman Smith serves on the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) participated today in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on rural health disparities in which Shannon Sorensen, CEO of Brown County Hospital in Ainsworth, Nebraska, testified as an invited witness. Among other issues, the hearing focused on Smith’s Critical Access Hospital Relief Act (H.R. 169) to remove the 96-hour precertification requirement for patients at Critical Access Hospitals.
Brown County Hospital CEO Shannon Sorensen’s testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee.
Congressman Smith’s statement and questions to the witnesses in today’s hearing.
“Nebraska’s Third District is home to more than 50 Critical Access Hospitals, and these facilities are vital to the health of rural Americans,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, arbitrary regulations such as 96-hour precertification and physician supervision requirements are stretching these hospitals’ resources and threatening their ability to continue providing quality care. I am grateful to Shannon for her willingness to testify before Congress today and share her expertise on the impacts of this onerous red tape.”
Smith’s Critical Access Hospital Relief Act has garnered extensive support with 70 bipartisan cosponsors. For more information on Smith’s bills to improve access to quality health care for rural Americans, click here.
For more information on today’s hearing, including a full list of witnesses, click here.Read More
We live in an era when our enemies are often difficult to identify and track, but some nations and their leaders have made well-known their desire to defeat America. Despite the growing global dangers to our country, President Obama has chosen to negotiate with nations which have openly threatened America and our allies. Not only has he met them at the negotiating table, but he has also given in to a disturbingly large number of their demands. Adding to the concern about these deals is the way President Obama has pursued them by bypassing Congress.
Details are trickling down about the nuclear agreement with Iran. In this deal, long-held sanctions against Iran would be lifted, allowing global financial resources to flow into a country still included on our list of state sponsors of terrorism. Unfortunately, the agreement appears to contain few mechanisms to ensure Iran holds up its end of the bargain.
Though the full agreement has not yet been made available to Congress, I am deeply concerned by reports of concessions we are giving to Iran such as lifting arms and missile embargoes and not securing the release of the Americans imprisoned there. Under the terms of the deal, Iran can keep International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors out of suspected nuclear sites for at least three weeks after the request is made. Ambassador Susan Rice and Secretary John Kerry have also now acknowledged a side deal between Iran and IAEA, but the details are unknown.
These negotiations with Iran bear many similarities to the deal recently struck by the Obama administration with Cuba. This week, the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Embassy in Havana formally reopened after President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro came to an agreement in December to resume diplomatic relations. President Obama called it a "historic step forward," but getting to this point required the U.S. to give much more than we received in the deal.
Castro has made it clear he does not intend to change any of his country's oppressive socialist policies. There are no indications Cuba's rampant human rights abuses will subside or even lessen. Cuba maintains its close connections to countries such as Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela, and continues to harbor terrorists and fugitives. Meanwhile, President Obama has removed Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Even these concessions by the U.S. are not enough for Castro. At the reopening ceremony for the Cuban Embassy in Washington, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez not only advocated for an end to the embargo but also called for the U.S. to compensate Cuba for the embargo's effects and to dismantle our naval base at Guantanamo.
With both Iran and Cuba, President Obama adds to his lengthy track record of ignoring Congress and taking unilateral executive action to pursue his agenda. He moved forward with reopening embassies and normalizing relations with Cuba without engaging Congress in these decisions. On Iran, the Obama administration took the deal to the United Nations before Congress even had a chance to review it. These actions are disturbing and show a continued disregard for the American people and their elected representatives.
Despite President Obama's determination to expand his executive authority, the Constitution mandates a crucial oversight role for Congress in these types of agreements with foreign nations. Congress has 60 days to disapprove the Iran deal, and only Congress can lift the Cuba embargo. My top priority remains ensuring any deal is in the best interest of the U.S. and our allies, as well as giving Nebraskans a voice in these decisions which will greatly impact our country's future.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) issued the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, to create uniform national standards for voluntary labeling of non-genetically engineered food products.
“The world population now exceeds seven billion people, and this number is expected to swell to nine billion by 2050,” Smith said. “Biotechnology, including genetically modified crops, allows farmers to produce higher yields while reducing the use of pesticides and conserving our natural resources, such as land and water.
“Despite the clear benefits of biotechnology, states have started adopting labeling laws with varying standards and definitions. To comply with a patchwork of state laws, farmers would have to implement costly crop segregation procedures, buy new equipment, and alter distribution chains. New costs would be passed onto consumers, with the biggest burdens falling on those who could afford it least. Today’s legislation passed by the House creates a uniform, science-based labeling standard for food which empowers both consumers and agriculture producers.”Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith’s (R-NE) House Modern Agriculture Caucus hosted a briefing today in conjunction with the Irrigation Association to educate lawmakers and staff on the importance of irrigation to productivity and conservation in agriculture. “As the leading irrigated state, Nebraska’s 8.5 million irrigated acres have played a crucial role in propelling the Third District to the top agriculture district in the country,” Smith said. “Our state is not known for its rainfall, but we are located over one of the largest aquifers in the world. Through the ingenuity of our producers, we are able to tap into this vital resource and transform an arid landscape into fertile farm land. Irrigation advancements, along with continued advances in biotechnology research, will allow the U.S. to lead the world in sustainably growing crops for food, fiber, and fuel.”
Derrel L. Martin, Ph.D. Professor of Biological Systems Engineering, Extension Specialist in Irrigation and Water Resources Engineering University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Kaomine Vang Project Manager California State University, Fresno
John Farner Government and Public Affairs Director Irrigation Association
Smith is the founder and co-chairman of the House Modern Agriculture Caucus. Smith hosted the hearing with caucus co-chairman Jim Costa (D-CA).Read More
Constituents of Third District Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) who need assistance dealing with a federal agency are invited to attend “Caseworker in Your Community” events on Thursday, July 30, in Alma and Franklin.
“Caseworker in Your Community” is an opportunity for constituents to meet directly with one of Smith’s congressional caseworkers. Caseworkers may be able to assist constituents who are having problems dealing with a federal agency such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security, Medicare, passports and visas through the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or the Internal Revenue Service.
“Caseworker in Your Community” will be held on Thursday, July 30, at the following times and locations:
Hoesch Memorial Public Library Meeting Room 1114 2nd Street, Alma, NE 68920 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (CDT)
Franklin Public Library 1502 P Street, Franklin, NE 68939 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (CDT)
For additional information, contact Congressman Smith’s Grand Island office at (308) 384-3900.Read More
Many Nebraskans are hitting the road for vacations and family gatherings during the dog days of summer. Earlier this month, AAA estimated nearly 42 million Americans would travel over the Fourth of July weekend, with approximately 85 percent driving to their destinations.
Nebraska has more than 96,000 miles of public roads and 3,500 bridges. When I have the opportunity to travel around the 67,000 square miles of the Third District, I naturally spend a lot of time in the car. Whether commuting for work or driving for leisure, we all depend on a reliable highway system to get us where we need to go.
As our country’s infrastructure ages, many highways, roads, and bridges are in need of significant repairs. Maintaining our infrastructure is an important responsibility of government, and there is always more work to be done. Unfortunately, the current Highway Trust Fund authorization is scheduled to expire on July 31.
Though the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee determines how highway funds are spent, the House Ways and Means Committee, on which I serve, has jurisdiction over the revenue collected for and the disbursement of money from the Highway Trust Fund. This puts our Committee at the helm of finding ways to sustainably fund our country’s infrastructure.
Funding is not the only problem we face in improving our highway system. Despite many technological advances, it takes as long to build a road today as it did 50 years ago. The combination of an overly bureaucratic process and expanding red tape holds up approvals and drags out construction timelines. While we work toward responsible funding solutions, we must also focus on rolling back regulations.
Our first step in addressing our country’s infrastructure challenges is ensuring projects already underway are not forced to a halt due to the fast-approaching July 31 funding deadline. To prevent this, the House passed Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s H.R. 3038 this week to extend the authorization for highway programs through the end of the year. We all share the goal of finding a long-term solution, but this bill provides the time and short-term funding needed to ensure we can make sound funding decisions which will not add to our national debt.
The Highway Trust Fund is currently funded by the federal gas tax, but this system is unsustainable. Increasing the gas tax makes little sense given continued efforts to decrease fuel use and increase efficiency. Extensive reforms of our outdated tax code are necessary to provide a reliable funding stream for our country’s infrastructure projects.
Though I support a comprehensive overhaul of our tax code, it is difficult to advance comprehensive tax reform under the current administration. However, it would be irresponsible for us to not fix what we can when situations like this arise while ensuring a complete overhaul of the tax code remains on the table.
The legislation passed by the House this week will allow us to continue our work on tax reform while seeking a multi-year highway funding plan. I am pleased the House took action to prevent the lapse of ongoing infrastructure projects and hope the Senate will join us in advancing this short-term bill to pave the way for a long-term highway funding solution.Read More
Congressmen Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Ron Kind (D-WI) introduced H.R. 3095, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act, today to address the shortages in essential veterinary services facing rural communities.
“The ongoing outbreak of avian flu in Nebraska and many other states, which has already cost our country’s poultry flocks more than 35 million birds, is again highlighting the importance of veterinarians in ensuring the health, safety, and security of our nation’s livestock chain,” Rep. Smith said. “Farmers and ranchers depend on veterinarians to help maintain our first class food safety system. This bill addresses a discrepancy in our outdated tax code to ease compliance for veterinarians who choose to serve where they are needed most.”
“The critical services large animal veterinarians provide to communities in western and central Wisconsin helps maintain both the safety of our food and the health and welfare of our livestock,” Rep. Kind stated. “However, there are many areas, including in much of my district, where there is a shortage of these doctors. This legislation would encourage more veterinarians to locate to the places of highest need.”
The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) provides student loan reimbursement to veterinarians who chose to practice for three years in federally designated shortage areas. A similar program, the National Health Service Corps, provides loan repayments to medical doctors and other human health practitioners.
Despite the similarity of these programs, National Health Service Corps loan repayments are exempt from federal withholding tax, while VMLRP payments are not. To address this inconsistency, H.R. 3095 would provide a similar exemption for VMLRP.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) issued the following statement today after the Obama administration announced its new nuclear agreement with Iran.
“With the Obama administration unveiling its nuclear agreement with Iran, it is crucial for Congress to fulfill its oversight role to ensure any deal is in the best interests of the U.S. and our allies,” Smith said. “I plan on fully and carefully reviewing this agreement, but I am already skeptical and concerned about reports of certain concessions we are giving to Iran, such as no inspections at military sites and not securing the release of the Americans imprisoned there. Lifting sanctions without major concessions from Iran would be a terrible mistake.”Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) will meet constituents of the Third District during a “mobile office” on Monday, July 20, in Laurel.
A “mobile office” allows constituents to meet directly with Congressman Smith about federal issues and take advantage of the constituent services available through his office, such as assisting individuals with challenges they face while working with a federal agency, ordering flags flown over the U.S. Capitol, and booking tours in Washington, D.C.
Smith, who has offices in Grand Island and Scottsbluff, will hold the mobile office in Laurel on Monday, July 20, at the following time and location:
Laurel City Auditorium 101 West 2nd Street, Laurel, NE 68745 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (CDT)
For additional information, contact Congressman Smith’s Grand Island office at (308) 384-3900.Read More
2241 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Congressman Adrian Smith has earned praise for his leadership, hard work and dedication to Nebraska commonsense. Smith has tackled issues ranging from biofuels and other forms of domestic energy to transportation research and development to fashioning legislation promoting rural America.
Smith has consistently voted against tax increases, massive government bailouts, and was unwavering in his opposition of the misguided health care bill now creating massive uncertainty for our nation’s job creators.
Smith, a co-sponsor of the Balanced Budget Amendment and a supporter of a Congressional earmark moratorium, has earned a reputation as a solid conservative through his votes to protect the rights of gun owners, efforts to limit the scope of government, and his strong pro-life voting record.
Smith, who serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means, actively promotes access for Nebraska agriculture products in Asia, South America, and throughout the world. Nebraska’s $4 billion in worldwide agricultural exports creates $6.7 billion in additional economic activity. Smith supports trade agreements which will continue to create new opportunities for our agriculture producers and their products to keep Nebraska’s economy strong.
Smith’s assignment on the Ways and Means Committee also puts the Nebraskan on the front lines in the debate on how to create jobs, promote economic growth, and directly impact tax policy – such as the Death Tax which threatens family farms and ranches.
Smith’s also has introduced the bipartisan Small-Scale Hydropower Enhancement Act which would help stimulate the economy of rural America, empower local irrigation districts to generate revenue, and decrease reliance on fossil fuels by encouraging the use of small-scale hydropower projects.
The Gering native, whose family has called Nebraska home for six generations, was first introduced to politics by his grandfather. Prior to his election to Congress, Smith served his hometown as a member of the City Council. He then represented District 48 for eight years in the Unicameral.
He continues to reside in Gering.
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