This Thanksgiving week, an in-district work week, gave me an opportunity to visit with constituents in Sedalia to listen to their concerns.
A visit to Bothwell Regional Health Center gave me a chance to see the new Cancer and Cardiovascular Center and hear about the great new care options for people in our district. I was impressed and glad to see such a wonderful facility helping so many families in our area. Bothwell Regional Health Center is the second largest employer in Pettis County -- providing valuable health care services to citizens of Pettis and neighboring counties. I am so pleased that this quality care is available to them.
I also appreciated the opportunity to hear from health care professionals regarding some of the impact they are feeling and will continue to feel from the President's health care law. Hospital administrators informed me they had estimated the Affordable Care Act would cost them $22 million over seven years. Renewed estimates now put that cost at approximately $35 million -- much of it due to huge reductions in Medicare reimbursement under the new law. This will be a challenge for many hospitals to navigate unless the law can be changed, and is one of the reasons I believe this law needs to be repealed and replaced with a better system that lowers costs while increasing access for all. In the meantime, I commend all the dedicated professionals at Bothwell Regional and wish them much success with their new facility.
My Sedalia visit gave me an opportunity to call on State Fair Community College's (SFCC) President, Dr. Joanna Anderson. She comes with a wealth of experience in community college leadership and a heart for Missouri higher education as she is originally from Missouri. SFCC is a public, non-profit college that offers high quality education to more than 5,000 students -- primarily at the Sedalia campus but also with classes offered in Boonville, Clinton, Lake of the Ozarks, Warsaw, Eldon, and at Whiteman Air Force Base. State Fair Community College has agreements with four-year schools that ensure credit earned at SFCC transfers to those institutions, as well. It is a wonderful asset to the community.
At the Pettis County Courthouse in downtown Sedalia, the 40 & 8 Honor Society of Veterans presented me with a petition urging me to do what I can to ensure that the brave service members who were victims of the 2009 terrorist attack by U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood, Texas, receive the benefits they have earned. The petition reads, in part: "We the undersigned members of Voiture 333, 40 & 8 Honor Society of Veterans, Sedalia, Missouri, petition and urge you to actively support any and all legislative efforts to re-classify the Fort Hood attack to what it was -- a terrorist attack / combat action, and to properly award the Purple Heart Medal to the victims (posthumously) and survivors of this horrendous attack, thus ensuring their proper current, and future, veterans benefits commensurate with their service and sacrifice in a combat action during a time of war, and undoing this erroneous and unjust classification of "workplace violence' by the Department of Defense."
There is no doubt this was an act of terrorism. It is only appropriate that the victims of this horrific act, committed by a man who acknowledged engaging in an act of jihad, receive the benefits they have so justly earned. I have co-sponsored H.R. 3111 to address this injustice and look forward to taking their petitions back to Washington to help secure the bill's passage.
It was an honor to meet with so many veterans who came out on a cold day in Sedalia to ask for justice. I am committed to working with my congressional colleagues to have this terrorist act re-classified as an act of war. We owe these Fort Hood heroes no less.
Before leaving Sedalia, I spoke to the Sedalia Rotary Club, sharing an update on important legislation in Washington. Among the issues raised by Rotary Club members was the progress of the Farm Bill. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I am looking forward to seeing the outcome of a House-Senate conference committee that is trying to iron out the differences in the two chambers' versions of this important legislation. I remain cautiously optimistic that an agreement can be reached before the end of the year to protect both consumers and farmers while maintaining America's safe, plentiful, and affordable food supply.
Finally, Americans throughout our country are joining family and friends this Thanksgiving weekend to celebrate and to thank our Creator for the blessings we enjoy living in the greatest nation on earth.
Many of us learned, as children, that the first Thanksgiving was observed at Plymouth following the harvest of 1621. The Pilgrims had endured a perilous first year and were grateful for God's provision and faithfulness.
We also learned that the first Thanksgiving recognized by the U.S. government came during the Civil War when President Lincoln issued a proclamation in October of 1863, reminding all of us that our nation's many blessings "should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people."
This year marks 150 years since he penned those words, yet their truth remains. We have been blessed with fruitful fields, industry and technology second to none, strong communities, caring neighbors, unparalleled opportunity, and the gift of freedom. A loving and Almighty God has blessed this nation and its people.
As we gather this Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends, let us give thanks to God for all He has given us. Let us also thank the brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces whose sacrifices preserve our freedoms and allow us to enjoy God's bounty.
Have a great week.