There was above average attendance at Creston Rotary Club Monday as the local service club hosted U.S. Congressman Tom Latham for a lunch meeting at Greater Regional Medical Center.
Every seat was filled as Latham spoke to and answered questions from Rotarians about the current state of the federal government. Latham emphasized in opening statements his priority — as it was throughout his campaign — is confronting the mounting debt in the United States.
“I’m looking forward to the huge challenges ahead of us,” Latham said, “and the foremost challenge is a $16.5 trillion debt. We are adding to that debt at $1 trillion per year. That’s not sustainable, and we all know that. We must do something about that debt and do it smart.”
Rotarian Joe Owens of Creston asked Latham if it’s possible politicians could put their agendas aside, work together in a bipartisan manner and do what’s best for this country.
“Can it be done? Yes,” Latham responded. “Will it happen? It doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen.”
Latham added the divide between Democrats and Republicans is so large, politicians in certain areas can be as partisan as they want and are rewarded for it by the voters each term when they’re re-elected.
Latham told the Rotary Club he’s willing to work in a bipartisan manner and do what’s best for this country even if it means his demise in the next election.
“It comes down to, do you want to play politics or do you want to get something done?” Latham said.
The Affordable Care Act was briefly discussed during the one-hour lunch with Latham stating when it’s fully implemented it’s likely to be a “disaster” for healthcare reimbursements and home healthcare.
Monte Neitzel, CEO at GRMC, reported Blue Cross Blue Shield reimbursement rates have changed and the hospital is now seeing a loss in revenue because of that change.
Rotary Club President Adam Snodgrass rung the bell at about 1 p.m. Monday, concluding the lunch meeting. Latham then toured Greater Regional Medical Center with Neitzel, Chief Nursing Officer Gwen Buck and his staff.
The short tour included the main areas damaged at GRMC during the tornado April 14 and the recovery GRMC has made since last April.
• Creston Schools Interim Superintendent Chuck Scott attended Monday’s Rotary Club meeting. Scott and Latham are familiar with one another as they grew up together in the small town of Alexander.
Alexander is located north of Des Moines in Franklin County, and currently has a population of about 175 people.
• There are now only four Congressional districts in Iowa.
Latham defeated longtime incumbent Leonard Boswell in the November election and now represents the 3rd Congressional District in Iowa, which includes Fremont, Page, Taylor, Ringgold, Mills, Montgomery, Adams, Union, Pottawattamie, Cass, Adair, Madison, Warren, Guthrie, Dallas and Polk counties.
Latham has regional offices in Creston, Council Bluffs and Des Moines. The Creston office is located in the Alliant Energy building on West Taylor Street, and operated by Laura Hartman.