Begich is voting his conscience

Posted: Sunday, January 24, 2010

In his Jan. 13 "My Turn" column, Tony Yorba accuses Sen. Mark Begich of voting for health care reform because he was told to do so by his party. Yorba conveniently ignores the reasoning put forward in Begich's Jan. 3 Empire column, "Deciding health care reform: Why I voted yes," in which the senator stated, "People die because they can't afford regular health care. Insurance premiums, already outrageously expensive, are headed through the roof in Alaska and the rest of the country. Medicare, which provides essential care to seniors, is going broke."

Yorba's fallacious, ad hominem rant about Begich's reasons for voting "yes" on the health care bill does little to convince me that the senator's desire to pass a bill extending health care to all Americans is a bad idea.

As a union member and a Democrat, I am delighted that Begich supports health care reform. I have good health insurance coverage after years of continued effort by organized labor to secure health care for union members (still fresh in my mind is the destruction of the Public Employees Retirement System by Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski and a Republican legislature in 2006).

Were it not for Democrats and organized labor, we would be at the mercy of "supply and demand" Republicans such as Yorba.

I cannot think of a single reason why all Americans should not be able to seek medical care without fearing financial ruin. Why should we have to hold fundraisers and bake sales to pay for basic medical costs for those suffering from cancer and other catastrophic diseases?

I applaud Begich for working to extend health care coverage to all Americans. Begich is voting his conscience, and is working to make access to health care possible for 133,000 Alaskans with no insurance coverage.

In a previous letter to the editor, Yorba supported President George W. Bush's tragically misguided war in Iraq without questioning the cost. It makes me wonder about Yorba's reasoning and his priorities.

Kimberly L. Metcalfe

Member, Laborers' International Union of North America, Local 341

Chair of the Juneau Democrats

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