Jeff Fortenberry

Jeff Fortenberry

NEBRASKA's 1st DISTRICT

Fort Report: The Wind-swept Plains of Nebraska

2017/01/23

When presidents give their inaugural addresses, we are accustomed to lofty narratives, to visionary ideals, to sweeping language. President Trump spoke differently. The only sweeping thing in his speech was his reference to the wind-swept plains of Nebraska. Of course I perked up in my seat.

President Trump’s speech was a striking and direct call for a new healthy nationalism. He spoke to the people, about the people, and for the people. A certain awkwardness marked the beginning. Not only was his style confrontational from the outset, but it began to rain right as he started, creating an uncomfortable moment. Then all of a sudden the rain stopped, and his speech gained momentum. He discussed in the harshest terms some of the stark realities we are facing and how they might be resolved.

Defining problems is always the easiest task. Finding solutions is much harder. While the President’s speech lacked specifics in that regard, nonetheless there was power in the attempt to articulate an America lost to globalized supply side elitism, an America lost to drugs and crime, an America lost to systems that no longer serve all persons. It just seems that no matter how hard people work, they just cannot get ahead.

Our new President’s speech was similar in theme to his campaign, with a matured sense of gravity. It was an authoritative call for a new national unity for all, for the forgotten. The idea that America can do better—and will do better for everyone—was clearly conveyed. I recognize that the tone of the speech will not have universal appeal. It was to the point, direct, and firm. It was not a delicate, textured speech. But he was clear: “The American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

We are witnessing a renewed focus on reviving America’s economy. The multinational corporations of the world are on notice: they cannot play both sides of the balance sheet, for us and against us, and that the benefits of exchange with us will have to be fair for all. Frankly, this creates the possibility for authentic relationship with peoples around the world, rather than a transactional one. If this objective can be achieved, it is a constructive change. A healthy American nationalism will lead to properly ordered international engagement: for our benefit and the benefit of others.

It should also be noted that the President spoke before the entirety of government, including the House of Representatives. The President’s authoritative style, communicating the desire to devolve power centers from Washington to Wall Street, interestingly repositions Congress to its appropriate role in governing society through the power of the people. It is statistically shown that the majority of Americans believe that it is the job of Congress to do whatever the President says. This is not true. Congress is an independent and coequal branch of government that makes the law, which is interpreted by the judiciary and enforced by the President. This balance of power has been out of balance for a hundred years—and perhaps now a realignment begins.

Whether you love President Trump or loath him, or whether you are some place in between with certain apprehensions but hoping your president succeeds, today was an extraordinary American day. We saw the successful and peaceful transfer of power.

 

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Fort Report: Life Expectancy

2017/01/17

I received a note from Scott, a farmer from Nebraska. It is a straightforward letter, Nebraska like. I’ll just show you basically what he wrote:

Congressman Fortenberry,
My health care is $23,000 a year with a $20,000 deductable.
I have $46,000 in property taxes (on a relatively small farm.)
I’m paying $24,000 in state and federal taxes.
Corn is $3.09 a bushel.
This. Doesn’t. Work.
Do Something!
Soon!

Scott is right. This is unsustainable. Such skyrocketing costs do not work for small business owners, for farmers, for many Americans facing the assault of unsustainable premium increases.

Catherine also wrote to me. She is a retired nurse. Due to preexisting conditions, she could not previously afford health care insurance. Now through subsidies she can. Catherine is also right.

Health care is complicated. To better assess the challenges, we have to segment the problem into digestible pieces. One group of people is being helped due to significant subsidies based upon their income. They are fearful of any change that would disrupt their care. At the same time, another group of people is left twisting in the wind. Although they are working, they do not qualify for Medicaid or subsidies, and their premiums are bigger than their house and car notes combined. They can’t make it. No wonder there is so much anger.

Multiple ideas have emerged about restoring a vibrant insurance market that is affordable, competitive, and protective. A first order priority is to ensure no one is left behind. At the same time, those who have the greatest financial pain deserve another system. We will see progress on these fronts in the coming weeks and months.

As all of this policy dynamic unfolds, there is a topic which remains unaddressed. For a certain segment of the population, life expectancy is going down. We spend more on health care than ever before, and yet what are we achieving? In effect, the entire health care debate revolves around financing, drugs, and procedures; thus the entire debate is incomplete. Whether health care policy is run by big government, whether it is run by big business, or whether a new innovative system emerges that rightfully combines the best aspects of certain public subsidy and a truly vibrant market system, the issue is the same: we are still only talking about how to pay for drugs and procedures. Health is much more.

Better health demands a comprehensive concept of wellbeing, one that is more complex than standard medical practice. Wellbeing is nurtured in community. Access to good care, stable relationships, and a high quality of life are all central to this concept. Interestingly, some of the poorest people in America, with limited access to resources and health care, have some of the best health outcomes. This reality rises organically from intact community ecosystems that enable persons the freedom of commitment and interdependency.

This moment of government transition provides a chance to rethink the equation, giving people where they live the security of affordable health care insurance while also nurturing a greater sense of place, purpose, and participation, so that they can actualize community solutions. I’m working on a new public policy concept called the Community Savings Account to facilitate and reward social health innovation.

Restoring a properly functioning and affordable health care system—with a renewed focus on understanding the fullness of wellbeing—could create an exceptional outcome at a tough moment. Then both Scott and Catherine win.

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Omaha World Herald: Air Force doesn't pick Offutt to house new drone unit

2017/01/13

WASHINGTON — Offutt Air Force Base appears unlikely to be the military base that will house mission control for a new drone unit.

Offutt had been one of five finalists for the remotely piloted aircraft group, but the Air Force has instead opted for South Carolina’s Shaw Air Force Base as its preferred location, according to the office of Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.

“This is obviously disappointing news for Offutt, in light of the many advantages it would have offered for this new mission,” Fortenberry said in a press release Thursday. “Nevertheless, thanks to its military expertise and robust service model, Offutt is well-positioned to compete as new mission opportunities arise.”

Fortenberry represents Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District, which includes Offutt.

In a statement Thursday, the Air Force said Offutt and the three other bases — in Arizona, Georgia and Idaho — will remain “reasonable alternatives” for the MQ-9 Reaper aircraft unit, and will be considered during the environmental impact analysis.

Nebraska officials and the local business community had hailed Offutt’s selection as a finalist because of the economic impact and jobs it could bring. The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce had suggested that the additional unit could translate into 500 new jobs and a direct economic impact of $65 million.

The Chamber pitched Offutt’s centralized location, the new headquarters for U.S. Strategic Command at the base and about 134 acres of land and existing structures available for development.

Local officials also touted the “vast local aircrew experience” and local higher education institutions that offer degrees supporting missions at Offutt.

But that apparently wasn’t enough to sell those in charge of the decision.

The state’s congressional delegation has been successful, however, in persuading the Air Force to make upgrades to Offutt’s runway. Fortenberry said those upgrades will set the base up for future opportunities.

Officials at Offutt’s 55th Wing had been informed of the decision and said they are looking ahead.

“We’ll accomplish and do the missions assigned to us, and we’ll accomplish them to the best of our ability,” said Drew Nystrom, a 55th Wing spokesman.

Click here to read the entire article.

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Omaha World Herald: Affordable Care Act repeal on fast track, but GOP replacement not yet in sight

2017/01/13

WASHINGTON — Capitol Hill Republicans are taking their first steps toward repealing the Affordable Care Act this week, delivering on a key campaign promise but also raising questions about what comes next.

The Senate voted 51-48 early Thursday for a resolution that paves the way for repeal of the health care law, also known as Obamacare. The Senate plan uses a budget procedure known as reconciliation, which cannot be filibustered.

The House is expected to vote on the measure today.

The four senators from Nebraska and Iowa, all Republicans, supported the resolution. GOP lawmakers say Americans want the law scrapped.

“Now we are on the road to do that,” Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska said during her weekly conference call with reporters.

Fischer said there will be a stable transition period that protects families while lawmakers craft their replacement plan.

“My focus moving forward is to deliver the compassionate, hassle-free, personalized health care that Nebraskans deserve,” Fischer said.

Republicans haven’t settled on a specific plan to replace the law, although they have cited a host of possible approaches that include bolstering health savings accounts, allowing insurance to be sold and carried across state lines and overhauling the medical malpractice system.

Democrats have consistently challenged Republicans to ensure that any replacement will take care of the millions of Americans who have gained insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in 2010.

Democrats have suggested that GOP proposals would actually allow many of those people to slip through the cracks.

Republican lawmakers are aware that they could face political fallout if repealing the Affordable Care Act costs people their health care coverage.

The American Action Network, a group aligned with House Republican leadership, is spending more than $1 million nationwide on an advertising campaign to tout the GOP repeal-and-replace effort. Targeted in part at districts expected to be battlegrounds in 2018, the ad will run for two weeks in the Omaha market.

The ad includes images of doctors treating patients and researchers hoisting test tubes, spliced with scenes of families walking on a beach, carrying a canoe and playing in a field at sunset.

The female narrator invites the viewer to imagine health insurance that, among other things, offers “more choices and better care, at lower costs.”

“House Republicans have a plan to get there without disrupting existing coverage, giving your family the health care it deserves,” the voiceover intones.

In fact, no such plan has been made public. But House members from Nebraska and Iowa are showing no signs of backing off the repeal effort in the meantime.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., said the idea of replacing the current law in one fell swoop is simply not realistic. Rather, he said, it’s a complicated question that should be approached in pieces.

“This has to be fair for everyone — no one gets left behind — but the current system is unsustainable and does not meet that test of fairness for millions of people who cannot afford what this has imposed on them,” Fortenberry said.

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., campaigned last year in part on repealing the ACA. He narrowly defeated incumbent Democrat Brad Ashford in the Omaha area’s 2nd District. Bacon said recently that while the law has helped some people, more have been hurt. He said he will vote for repeal and then work on the replacement.

Sen. Ben Sasse has long been critical of fellow Republicans for simply denouncing the ACA without offering their own proposals.

Sasse reiterated his criticism that Republicans haven’t done enough on the issue. He said they need to find a way to address the problem that existed before the Affordable Care Act was passed: an increase in the number of uninsured Americans, which he said was driven at least in part by the nation’s increasingly transitory workforce.

“You still want health care financing that is diverse and nimble and competitive — you don’t want it run by the government,” Sasse said. “It’s a hard riddle to solve, and Republicans are a decade late to getting serious about the replace plan.”

He said that lawmakers will argue about the best avenues for replacement but that the only way to put force behind that debate is to repeal the current law. Absent that first step of repeal, he said, Washington would just ignore the issue.

“There are important fights to be had, but you’ve got to repeal to get to an urgency about those fights,” Sasse said.

Click here to read the entire article.

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Fortenberry Statement on Air Force’s Decision to Not Select Offutt Air Force Base for New Drone Mission Control

2017/01/12

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01) today made the following statement following the Air Force’s decision not to select Offutt Air Force Base as the preferred location to base a new mission control for the MQ-9 Reaper drone group.

"This is obviously disappointing news for Offutt, in light of the many advantages it would have offered for this new mission. Nevertheless, thanks to its military expertise and robust service model, Offutt is well-positioned to compete as new mission opportunities arise," said Fortenberry, whose district includes Offutt Air Force Base.

In addition to this action, the Air Force is also considering another location to host an MQ-9 location that includes up to 24 MQ-9s, launch and recovery elements, a mission control element, a maintenance group and support personnel.

Last year Fortenberry assembled the Offutt Air Force Base Task Force to provide oversight of the runway replacement process, which resulted in a commitment to provide adequate funding for the runway repairs. This will better position Offutt for future mission opportunities.

Congressman Fortenberry is the Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. 

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The Plattsmouth Journal: Fischer, Fortenberry nominate two local students for military academies

2017/01/11

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry submitting Nebraska service academy nominations for the class of 2021:

Every year, U.S. senators are called upon to nominate a select group of eligible individuals from their states for enrollment at one of the five U.S. Military Service Academies: the United States Air Force Academy, the United States Merchant Marine Academy, the United States Coast Guard Academy, the United States Military Academy and the United States Naval Academy. Fischer’s and Fortenberry’s Cass County nominees for the class of 2021 are Hailey Kozma to the U.S. Military Academy, and Zachary Ostrander to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Click here to read the entire article.

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The Viewpoint: Norfolk Area Schools listed for Recognition Honoring Veterans

2017/01/11

LINCOLN – More than 220 individual schools and school districts from across the state, including schools in Madison County: Battle Creek Public Schools, Newman Grove Schools, Norfolk High School, Norfolk Jr. High School, have received special certificates from Secretary of State John Gale recognizing their efforts to honor military veterans. Participants included preschool, elementary, middle and high school students of public and nonpublic schools.

“I have actively encouraged schools to honor veterans for eight years, by hosting programs and speakers on or near Veterans Day, but I believe this is the largest number of schools that my office has ever recognized at one time,” said Gale.

In addition to performances by school groups, the variety of programs included breakfasts and luncheons for veterans and their families, special displays featuring photos of veterans, flag retirement ceremonies and the presentation of quilts to military members or relatives.

“The heartening thing is that some schools are expanding their activities beyond just Veterans Day,” said Gale. “For example, at Ralston Middle School, students collected toiletries for veterans, which were donated to the Siena Francis House in Omaha. In Gering, students at Lincoln Elementary launched a program in which they adopted a former student who is deployed with whom to correspond throughout the year.”

Gale said the value of such programs is that they have a lasting impact, both on veterans and the students who take part.

“It is important for students to understand the sacrifices of retired and active military members, as well as their families. They may not realize just how many classmates have family members who are deployed, until an event like this comes up.”

Gale got the idea to honor schools back in 2008, when he attended a middle school program in Grand Island. In addition to veterans and military members, notable speakers at schools this year included: U.S. Senator Deb Fischer, U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, Lt. Governor Mike Foley, U.S Representative Jeff Fortenberry, U.S Representative Adrian Smith and Adjutant General Daryl Bohac of the Nebraska National Guard.

Some of the unique activities that schools reported to Sec. Gale included:

A soldier who recently returned from Afghanistan and presented Central Elementary School in McCook with a flag that he carried aboard the Blackhawk helicopter on which he served.

Students at Brownell Talbot who held a mock draft as part of a lesson on soldiers who served in Vietnam.

A former graduate of Pender High School who told students about his role as a guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

A video featuring 8th graders at Ainsworth Schools who had adopted local veterans and did special projects for them throughout the year.

A soldier and former Alliance High School graduate who addressed students while deployed, via Skype.

“I applaud the students, educators and staff members who work so hard to put these events together,” Gale added. “It reinforces the importance of community ties and civic engagement in a way that is very interactive and hands-on.”

Click here to read the entire article.

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Fortenberry Announces 2016 Military Academy Nominees

2017/01/09

 

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) today announced the selection of students from eastern Nebraska to receive nominations to America's top military academies.

"A military academy appointment is a tremendous honor and a great responsibility," Fortenberry said. "Nominees must demonstrate capacity for leadership, personal integrity, and rigorous scholarship. I am pleased to nominate several young Nebraskans who meet these qualifications."

Following are the 2016 nominees:

Jackson Arndt of Lincoln Pius X High School.  Jackson is the son of Roderick and Michele Arndt and has been nominated to the United States Military Academy.

Lauren Berke of Lincoln Pius X High School. Lauren is the daughter Todd and Christine Berke  and has been nominated to the United States Air Force Academy.

Hannah Compton of Milford High School.  Hannah is the daughter of Duane and Lisa Compton and has been nominated to the United States Air Force Academy.

Montana Cottle of Fort Calhoun High School.   Hannah is the daughter of Larry and Nova Cottle and has been nominated to the United States Military Academy.

Allan Cramblitt of Yutan High School.  Allan is the son of Mike and Andrea Cramblitt and has been nominated to the United States Naval Academy.

Gregory Dalton of Lincoln Pius X High School.  Gregory is the son of Thomas and Renee Dalton and has been nominated to the United States Air Force Academy.

Elizabeth Gao of Lincoln Southwest High School.  Elizabeth is the daughter of Jinnian Gao and Dana Wang and has been nominated to the United States Air Force Academy.

Shanna Hoven of Wahoo Bishop Neumann High School.  April is the daughter of Art and Linda Hoven and has been nominated to the United States Air Force Academy.

Joseph Kopetka of Lincoln Pius X High School.  Joseph is the son of Jackie Kopetka and the late Joseph Kopetka and has been nominated to the United States Naval Academy. 

Hailey Kozma of Conestoga High School at Murray.  Hailey is the daughter of April Upton and has been nominated to the United States Military Academy.

Megan LeClere of Bellevue West High School.  Megan is the daughter of Bart and Lisa LeClere and has been nominated to the United States Naval Academy.

Kathleen Medill of Lincoln Pius X High School.  Kathleen is the daughter of Steve and Colleen Medill and has been nominated to the United States Air Force Academy. 

Zachary Ostrander of Platteview High School.  Zachary is the son of Lyle and Michelle Ostrander and has been nominated to the United States Air Force Academy.

Olivia Pletcher of Lincoln Pius X High School.  Olivia is the daughter of Roger and Donna Pletcher and has been nominated to the United States Air Force Academy.

Natalie Schieuer of Lincoln Pius X High School.  Natalie is the daughter of Kevin and Heidi Schieuer and has been nominated to the United States Naval Academy. 

Ryan Volin of Wahoo High School.  Ryan is the son of Ron and Beth Volin and has been nominated to the United States Air Force Academy.

Thomas Ward of Lincoln Southeast High School.  Thomas is the son of Thomas and Mariana Ward and has been nominated to the United States Air Force Academy.

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Fort Report: The Oath of Office

2017/01/09

On January 3, I took the Oath of Office as a member of the United States House of Representatives. This is my constitutional duty.

The day of swearing in on Capitol Hill is marked by celebration, as well as by the renewal of friendships, even between people with deep disagreements. Families and guests gather to share in the moment’s excitement and meaning. Members of Congress congratulate one another and take a reprieve from the intensity of policy debate. But amidst the swirl of activity, the day is set apart by the oath of office. The oath lays down a clear marker of the serious obligation ahead.

In our day and time, we are no longer connected to the deeper concept of an oath. We see it in the courtroom when someone is required to tell the truth. We see it when the President is sworn in. But we rarely take time to reflect on its deeper sense. We see it more like an old tradition, a time-honored nostalgic exercise. However, the oath is a solemn declaration. It is a pause, the start of sacred duty. By taking an oath, you effectively hold yourself as ransom. You commit, at the deepest levels, that you will perform these tasks to the best of your ability. It is the ultimate measure and test of integrity. If violated, you tear the center of being to the detriment of yourself and of the community. This is a very high bar.

I am reminded of the words of Sir Thomas More, who was the Lord High Chancellor of England from 1529 to 1532. He strove to live a life worthy of excellence in public service, but was eventually put to death by the state. In an earlier reflection on the idea of the oath, he said, “When a man takes an oath, he’s holding his own self in his own hands like water, and if he opens his fingers then, he needn’t hope to find himself again.”

Throughout the day of the swearing in, I was reflecting on a singular word: replenishment. Our American system of government has an extraordinary capacity to replenish itself with new ideas, new people, and a refreshed perspective. Our political system starts with the belief that political power is derived from each person’s dignity. By voting, citizens invest their power in representatives to make judgments on their behalf. But to earn that right, a representative must first state their case to the people. In spite of the drama, in spite of the raucous nature of elections, the fact that America goes through this cycle of constant replenishment is an extraordinary gift.

As I stood in the center aisle of the United States House of Representatives, I raised my right hand and along with the other new members of the 115th Congress of the United States of America took the Oath of Office:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

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Omaha World Herald: Uncertainty over Affordable Care Act's future hasn't slowed sign-ups

2017/01/08

Insurance companies may be backing out of the federal health law, and Republicans in Congress may be moving to repeal it.

But at OneWorld Community Health Centers in South Omaha, staffers tell their clients to sign up for health insurance while they can, and more people in Nebraska, Iowa and 38 other states are taking that advice.

“As long as there’s still plans to choose from and the subsidy is still there, people are still wanting to be covered,” said Andrea Skolkin, OneWorld’s chief executive.

Enrollment on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges continues to climb in Nebraska, Iowa and across the nation.

More than 85,000 people in Nebraska so far have chosen individual or family health care plans for 2017 through the federal law’s HealthCare.gov exchange — up 7.3 percent from the same period last year.

The increase in sign-ups reflects the popularity of the law among those who wouldn’t otherwise have coverage, and it underscores the difficult task facing GOP lawmakers and President-elect Donald Trump: How to unravel something that is increasingly entrenched in American life.

Trump promised to replace the Affordable Care Act with something even better. Congressional Republicans have internal differences about how to proceed, with some saying it’s wise to hash out a replacement plan first.

But Iowa and Nebraska Republicans told The World-Herald they are committed to pressing forward with repeal.

“We can’t be wobbly on this,” said Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb. “I would tell some of my colleagues: ‘If you’re getting wobbly, you needed to be at some of the town halls I had with people screaming at you.’ ”

Despite such vocal opposition to the law, nearly 5,800 more Nebraskans have chosen ACA exchange plans so far in the current sign-up period than by the same point a year ago. Enrollments also are up in Iowa by 5.4 percent to 52,281 people and nationwide by 1.8 percent to 8.8 million, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said.

About one-fourth of the enrollees are first-timers.

(Iowa has fewer enrollees than Nebraska largely because its Blue Cross affiliate, Wellmark, did not offer health plans on the ACA exchange. For 2017 it is offering plans in 47 of the state’s 99 counties, not including Pottawattamie County.)

As Barack Obama’s administration comes to an end this month, officials have been making the case for keeping the law.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell plans to hold a forum Monday at the National Press Club to explain the benefits of the ACA and consequences of scrapping it.

In particular she plans to lay out problems with a number of alternative approaches that have been floated.

An HHS spokesman said enrollment is up “because this is a product that consumers clearly want and need. It’s affordable, guarantees access to essential health benefits, and consumers can’t be denied access to it due to a pre-existing condition.”

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said the law must be repealed but Congress should be thoughtful. She said there is a lot of misinformation that repeal means Americans could immediately lose coverage, when in fact there will be a transition period.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., said he supports repeal but also a fair “stabilizing process.”

Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., said his party is largely unified on the end goal of a better system that ensures affordable, market-based access, but there are different ideas among Republicans about how to get there. “We will need some time for markets to form, but keeping people insured is, I would say, my highest priority,” Smith said.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, suggested that a transition period isn’t necessary. He supports a swift and complete repeal of the law, since existing policies would be in effect through 2017. Among changes he favors: making all premiums tax-deductible and allowing insurance to be sold across state lines.

Bacon’s resolve for repeal is particularly notable because the freshman congressman just won election from a relatively politically balanced district. He said he’s aware that the issue is not completely black and white.

The law has helped some people, and he hears from those on that side of the argument. But even more have been hurt, he said, by rising premiums, high deductibles and the burdens the law places on businesses.

“I’m hearing some folks who are worried that they may lose coverage, and I’ve also got people calling me, (saying) ‘Don, whatever you do, kill Obamacare, it’s killing us.’ ”

The individuals most helped by the law, he said, are those with pre-existing medical conditions, and any replacement plan should include provisions for them. He said there are different ways to do that, such as subsidized high-risk insurance pools at the state or federal level.

Other questions, such as what to do with those who have been receiving subsidized coverage through the exchanges, will have to be worked out, he said.

He and others noted that there will be a transition period of possibly two years during which Republicans will work on those and other proposals that will ensure people have access to coverage they can afford.

“In our country, everybody should have access to affordable care — not free, but affordable,” Bacon said.

The political wrangling isn’t lost on people looking into plans offered by Aetna Health and Medica Health on the ACA’s exchanges, said Emilia Tamayo, who manages OneWorld’s insurance enrollment and financial services office.

“If the politicians don’t know the answers, how should we know?” she said.

OneWorld’s office at the Livestock Exchange Building enrolled 1,592 people, many of them first-timers, on the ACA exchange between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31. For the same period last year, 1,714 people enrolled.

Tamayo said she and the center’s advisers reassure enrollees that they are covered for 2017 and that the law imposes a penalty for not having insurance.

The penalty is an important part of the law because it encourages young, healthy people to buy insurance. Without the threat of a penalty, the insurance pool would be lopsided with the sickest people.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska and UnitedHealthCare both stopped selling exchange plans for 2017 because of unexpectedly high claims by people who had the ACA plans in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The two companies sold more than 35,500 health plans on Nebraska’s ACA exchange for 2016, nearly half the state total.

With enrollment open through the end of January, Medica’s enrollments in Nebraska and Iowa are up significantly, exceeding Medica’s expectations, spokesman Greg Bury said. But he said it’s premature to give an exact number of enrollees.

The Affordable Care Act automatically re-enrolls people in their existing plans unless they take steps to quit. When plans are no longer available, such as those dropped by Blue Cross and UnitedHealthCare, the system automatically transfers people to similar plans.

Tamayo, OneWorld’s enrollment manager, said the departure of Blue Cross and UnitedHealthCare doesn’t seem to make a difference to people as long as they can find a policy they can afford.

“They’re looking for the most value for the buck,” she said. Skolkin, OneWorld’s CEO, said clients wonder whether they should bother getting insurance if the law is just going to be repealed.

Even if the ACA is repealed, Skolkin said she believes “there’s going to be some kind of insurance product out there that people are going to be enrolled in. Hopefully the current plans will evolve into that.”

Click here to read the entire article.

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Rep. Fortenberry reacts to Inauguration on 1011 News

2017-01-23 17:46:28


Fortenberry Talks to KOLN about 117th Congress

2017-01-05 21:05:20


Know Your Government in One Minute

2016-12-30 22:01:14


Rep Fortenberry Discusses Electoral College and Religious Minorities on Fox News Channel

2016-12-20 00:25:06


Fortenberry discusses Congress and Trump Administration on 1011 News

2016-11-23 18:51:05


Fortenberry speaks about escalating healthcare costs on KLKN

2016-11-04 21:26:44


Fortenberry Talks about Nineveh Plains Resolution on EWTN

2016-10-31 22:05:15


Fortenberry discusses Healthcare Affordability Forum on KOLN

2016-10-31 21:52:30


Congressman Fortenberry Speaks on House Floor about Various Issues

2016-10-31 19:22:46


Fortenberry Discusses Federal Budget and Healthcare on 1011 News

2016-09-26 21:39:51


Fortenberry Speaks on Vice Chancellor Prem Paul

2016-09-15 21:49:39


Fortenberry Speaks with Egyptian TV - Part 2

2016-09-02 23:08:24


Fortenberry Speaks with Egyptian TV Part 1

2016-09-02 22:56:22


Fortenberry Speaks on the Conscience Protection Act

2016-07-13 20:59:21


Fortenberry Honored at Lincoln Yezidi Celebration

2016-04-25 18:02:37


Fortenberry discusses genocide designation with CNN's Elise Labott

2016-03-18 21:24:24


Fortenberry Discusses Genocide with Fox's Shannon Bream

2016-03-18 16:22:08


Fortenberry joins House leaders regarding his genocide resolution

2016-03-15 16:54:00


Fortenberry speaks after House unanimously passes his ISIS genocide resolution

2016-03-15 16:49:22


Fortenberry Remembers Scalia on 10/11 Pure Nebraska

2016-03-08 18:29:07


Contact Information

1514 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-4806
Fax 202-225-5686
fortenberry.house.gov

Committee Assignments

Appropriations

Jeff Fortenberry was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2004 to serve Nebraska’s First Congressional District. His work in Congress is rooted in the belief that the strength of our nation depends on the strength of our families and communities. Jeff is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which appropriates United States government expenditures. He serves on three subcommittees with importance for Nebraska: Agriculture, Energy and Water, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.

Jeff previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee where he placed particular focus on human rights concerns, Middle Eastern affairs, and nuclear weapons non-proliferation. He also represented Nebraska on the Agriculture Committee, where his work on two Farm Bills advanced opportunities for young and beginning farmers and promoted agricultural entrepreneurship.

Prior to serving in Congress, Jeff worked as a publishing industry executive in Lincoln, where he also served on the Lincoln City Council from 1997-2001. Jeff also has significant personal experience in small business, and early in his career he worked as a policy analyst for the United States Senate Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations. Jeff earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and two master’s degrees, one in public policy. He and his wife Celeste live in Lincoln and have five daughters.


Serving With

Adrian Smith

NEBRASKA's 3rd DISTRICT

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