EDITORIAL: Not far apart

At a Commonwealth North forum, Sen. Lisa Murkowski was asked how she and Sen. Mark Begich can have such different stands on health care reform. 

Murkowski said the two Alaska senators agree on the outcome they'd like to see. Their points of agreement amount to more than you might think. 

Both say health care reform should contain costs, make health care accessible to more people, and improve what Murkowski calls "the delivery system." 

Specifically, they both have said they support a model of health care in which nurses, dieticians, physician's assistants and other professionals take a more active role in treating patients, along with doctors.  

That's an excellent idea, and anything Congress can do to make such a change happen, it should. 

Murkowski and Begich both slammed the opponents of health care reform who are making up scary stories that are not true, such as that senior citizens would have to face a board that decides end-of-life measures.  

"It does us no good to incite fear in people by saying there are death panels," said Murkowski. "I'm so offended by that terminology. ...

We couldn't have said it better.

The two Alaska senators disagree on whether reducing the cost of medical malpractice lawsuits is an important part of health care reform -- Murkowski says yes, Begich no. That's a subject for further study, but shouldn't hold up other reforms. 

Both U.S. senators, in different ways, are looking out for their Alaska constituents on health care reform, and not simply aligning themselves with their political parties. 

BOTTOMLINE: Murkowski and Begich agree some big changes need to take place in our health care system.

Source: Alaska's two senators agree on basic goals in health debate