Town will pay to insure Buenting family

Jamie Buenting

ROCKWELL CITY — The widow and children of a Rockwell City police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 2013 will have health insurance coverage paid for by the local government for most of next year.

The City Council voted Monday night to pay for the insurance of Amanda Buenting and her son and daughter, fulfilling its pledge to provide coverage to them for five years following the death of Jamie Buenting.

The council’s promise to provide that coverage appeared to be in jeopardy earlier this year when Blue Cross/Blue Shield representatives informed city leaders that their company would not cover the family for more than three years.

“I’m very, very thankful that they would consider doing that,” Amanda Buenting said Monday night. “I’m very happy.”

“I would really like to thank the community of Rockwell City for standing behind its promise of five years of insurance even when they had to buy an individual policy,” she added. “It means a lot to me.”

Mayor Phil Heinlen said Monday evening after the council meeting that the insurance policy is a “done deal.”

“It’s very similar to what she has now,” he said of the new insurance policy. “It looks like it’s going to work for her.”

Heinlen said the city will pay the premiums for the policy. He did not have any cost figures immediately available.

Jamie Buenting was one of many law enforcement officers from different agencies who were on the scene at 502 Pleasant St. on the night of Sept. 13, 2013, when Corey Trott barricaded himself in the house there. The officers were there to take Trott into custody because a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

When Jamie Buenting broke a window and tried to knock down a sheet that was covering it, Trott fired a shot that hit him in the neck and killed him. Jamie Buenting was 37 at the time of his death.

Trott was arrested in the house about four hours later. He was convicted of first-degree murder in 2014 and is serving life in prison.

In 2014, the Rockwell City City Council passed a resolution declaring that the city would provide health insurance to the dependants of any municipal employee killed on the job for five years after the death.

Earlier this year, the city found out that Blue Cross/Blue Shield would not insure those dependants for more than three years.

Amanda Buenting addressed the City Council in August and asked for its help.

She said her daughter has Type I diabetes, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and an autoimmune disorder. She described the girl as a “pretty active child,” but treating her medical conditions is expensive.

City officials put Amanda Buenting in touch with TrueNorth Companies, an insurance broker based in Cedar Rapids. According to Heinlen, she worked with that company’s representatives to pick the plan approved by the council Monday.

Heinlen said the new policy will be in effect Jan. 1 and will be in place until September 2018. He said in September 2018, the city will have fulfilled its obligation to the Buenting family.

Amanda Buenting is now working to get a state law passed that would provide health insurance to the children of fallen law enforcement officers until they turn 26. She said she’s working with state Rep. Mike Sexton, R-Rockwell City, to draft a bill to be introduced in the 2018 legislative session.