Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Alaska delegation splits over health care reform vote

FAIRBANKS - Alaska's Congressional delegation split across party lines in reaction to the passing of the Democrat-backed health care bill.

Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat, was not available for comment nor did he release a statement on the bill's passing but was "pleased to see health reform moving forward," according to an e-mail from press secretary Julie Hasquet. Rep. Don Young and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, both Republicans, publicly chided the bill's passing.

In a conference call Sunday evening, Young said he opposed the legislation because he believes it is too inflexible and bulky.

While he agreed with the bill's take on tort reform and eliminating pre-existing conditions, those positives were packaged with stipulations and rules that hurt the health care system, he said.

"(There are) six or seven good things, but no, they had to take the whole barn, and this is a big barn and the roof is leaking," he said.

Young's list of the bill's flaws includes the creation of 160 grant programs, 110 agencies and 13 "health czars." Cutting funding from the grant programs and agencies might be an effective way to get rid of them, he said.

Young questioned the validity of Obama's executive order that declared no federal dollars would fund abortion, which won the votes of anti-abortion Democrats such as Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich. Young said Stupak "caved, sadly."

He also expressed little confidence in a House reconciliation bill that proposes more than 100 pages of changes to the roughly 2,700-word bill that passed Sunday.

"I'd be willing to take book that there won't be a reconciliation bill in the end," he said.

In a press release, Murkowski railed against the bill's proposed cuts to Medicare and the fact that it will affect Americans through taxes before any benefits kick in in 2014.

"At a time when the nation's debt has reached historically high levels, and the economy remains in a deep recession with unemployment hovering near 10 percent, this is the wrong bill at the wrong time," the release stated. "At more than $2.6 trillion, the cost of the legislation in its first 10 years of full implementation, we cannot afford it."

Gov. Sean Parnell also denounced the legislation via press release.

"This is public policy at its worst," the release stated. "I am very concerned with the impacts this bill will have on Alaska's seniors, families, small businesses and physicians. For the many Alaskans currently unable to afford insurance, this legislation will do nothing but require that they purchase health insurance."

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Source: By Joshua Armstrong. Originally published March 22, 2010