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Briefs

Posted: November 10, 2013 - 1:08am

Murkowski co-sponsors bill to keep health coverage

As reports of Americans getting kicked off their health insurance come to light, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is signing on to legislation that would prevent that from continuing to happen.

“‘Keep your health care plan if you like it’ was one of the key claims that President Barack Obama used to force this flawed law through Congress, and now over 5,000 Alaskans have seen this promise broken in the first month of its rollout,” Murkowski said in a statement.

Obama apologized Thursday to people who received cancellation notices for their health insurance.

“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation … based on assurances they got from me,” Obama said in an interview with NBC News. “We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and that we’re going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”

Sen. Mark Begich called on Obama to hurry up the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable in this day and age that the administration can’t deliver on the promises it made to all Americans because of technical problems with a website,” Begich said.

The Healthcare.gov website that people are supposed to be able to purchase insurance on has been burdened with technical problems since it went live. Enroll Alaska, the insurance brokerage firm created to get Alaskans signed up for health care insurance through the online marketplace, is not currently registering people because of the website’s problems.

Rural status comment period extended

Members of the public can comment on the Federal Subsistence Board’s rural determination process until Dec. 2.

The embattled process came under fire recently at the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention in Fairbanks last month.

“The standards of the Federal Subsistence Board are ridiculous,” Sen. Murkowski said to the convention. “In Alaska, rural is not determined by population — it is determined by the character of life in a place. And the character of life in a traditional community doesn’t change based upon whether that community gains or loses a few hundred people.”

In 2006, the Federal Subsistence Board stripped the village-city of Saxman of its rural status, which meant its residents wouldn’t have priority over commercial and sport hunters and fishermen. Saxman’s rural status was reinstated while the board reconsiders the issue.

Comments may be sent by e-mail to subsistence@fws.gov. or by mail to SFWS, Office of Subsistence Management, 1011 East Tudor Road, MS 121, Attn: Theo Matuskowitz, Anchorage, AK 99503-6199.

Beware the poisonous algae

Two cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning we reported last month in Sitka.

Once again, health officials are warning people to not eat shellfish harvested recreationally.

Symptoms from PSP poisoning can happen immediately after eating poisoned shellfish or several hours later. Symptoms include shortness of breath, tingling, dizziness and numbness, potentially resulting in death.

“Any locally harvested shellfish — including clams, mussels, oysters, geoducks and scallops — can contain paralytic shellfish poison,” according to the Department of Health and Social Services. “Crabmeat is not known to contain the PSP toxin, but crab guts can contain unsafe levels of toxin and should be discarded. There is no way to tell if a beach is safe for harvesting by looking at it. Toxins can be present in large amounts even if the water looks clear. Also, the toxin can remain in shellfish long after the algae bloom is over. PSP cannot be cooked, cleaned or frozen out of shellfish.”

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