Widow of fallen officer looks for answers
Amanda Buenting has learned her family’s health insurance will end
ROCKWELL CITY — The widow of a fallen officer is looking to the Iowa Legislature to make a change after the health insurance that covered her children’s medical expenses was discontinued.
Amanda Buenting, the widow of Jamie Buenting, recently found out that his insurance through the city will no longer cover her family.
Jamie Buenting died from a gunshot wound in the line of duty as an officer of the Rockwell City Police Department in 2013.
He was shot during an overnight standoff at 502 Pleasant St. by Corey Trott, of Rockwell City. Trott was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Jamie Buenting in September 2014.
Jamie Buenting was a full-time law enforcement officer with the Rockwell City Police Department for eight years. He had been employed as a law enforcement officer since 1999.
Amanda Buenting addressed the Rockwell City Council at its meeting Monday night.
No action was taken by the council.
“I came to you today to talk to you guys about continuing insurance for the children in the wake of Jamie’s death,” she said.
Amanda and Jamie Buenting had two children together: Ethan, 13, and Kalie, 11.
According to Amanda Buenting, Kalie Buenting was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 2.
About two months ago she was also diagnosed with a secondary autoimmune disorder, Amanda Buenting said.
“That requires chemo lifelong to keep her body from attacking itself, so we are looking at something that is quite pricey without insurance,” she said.
According to Amanda Buenting, just two weeks after finding out her daughter had the disorder, she also found out she wouldn’t have insurance to offset the expenses.
“The city got ahold of me and said they weren’t going to continue the insurance any longer because they realized Blue Cross/ Blue Shield will only cover the insurance for three years as opposed to five.”
Amanda Buenting recalled when Jamie Buenting selected Rockwell City as a community in which to raise their family.
“When Jamie joined Rockwell City Police Department in 2005, he did so not only as an officer, but as a husband and a father,” she said. “With me being pregnant with our second child, he carefully chose this community because of what the community offered and the benefits that were offered.”
“On Sept. 13, 2013, that came to an abrupt end,” she added. “Jamie walked out the door and kissed us goodbye. I got a knock on my door at 2 a.m. Shots had been fired and they didn’t know if he would make it.”
At that time, Amanda Buenting was rushed to the emergency room at Stewart Memorial Community Hospital in Lake City.
“The last time I saw my husband was cold on the table with a gunshot wound in his neck,” she said. “The hardest part was to go home and tell his children that their dad was gone, that he wasn’t coming home.”
Amanda Buenting asked the council to continue the insurance.
“I am a working mom with two kids of Jamie’s at home and I am here to give them everything they need,” she said. “I shouldn’t have to worry about bills piling up with Kalie’s medical.”
“I am asking as a community to band together, stand up for what’s right,” she added. “Stand up for this community, for the state, and for the men and women in blue who have given their lives in the line of duty.”
Mayor Phil Heinlen said Blue Cross/Blue Shield will only cover three years of the dependents in the event that a city worker is killed on duty.
“We all echo what you have said,” Heinlen said. “We have been working with the insurance company.”
According to Heinlen, the city passed a resolution in 2014 that promised dependents like Amanda Buenting would be insured on the city policy for five years.
But the city recently found out it has to cut that to three years.
“We found out today that actually Blue Cross/Blue Shield only go three years,” he said. “So now we get to rewrite the resolution because we can’t go further than 36 months.”
“We wanted to go to five years, that’s why we wrote the resolution,” Heinlen added.
Amanda Buenting said she planned to take her issue to the state.
“I am hoping to take this to a further level to change legislation for the state,” she said. “Other states have changed in the past to allow to age 26, which is how long Jamie would have provided for his children if he were alive.”
“If there was state legislation that said they had to, Blue Cross/Blue Shield would have to allow that because other states do that Blue Cross/Blue Shield covers.”
Heinlen said the city would continue to look at options.
“I wish I could tell you something better than that, but at this point I can’t,” Heinlen said.