Alaska delegation divided on health reform

Posted: Thursday, March 11, 2010

FAIRBANKS - Alaska's congressional delegation remains split along party lines on health care reform.

Because Democrats now lack the filibuster-proof 60 vote super majority in the Senate, they are seeking to pass the legislation with an up-or-down vote called "reconciliation," which requires a simple majority.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said that would be a mistake.

"We should not utilize a parliamentary maneuver that would allow the Democratic leadership to circumvent the will of the American people," Murkowski said in a statement. "While reconciliation is a process that has been used by both parties over the years, it has not been used for such a sweeping piece of legislation that comprises 17 percent of the nation's economy."

Democratic Sen. Mark Begich remains in favor of the action.

"Sen. Begich voted for and still supports the health reform bill that passed the Senate on Christmas Eve with a supermajority 60 votes," spokeswoman Julie Hasquet told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

The White House has called for action on the broad health care legislation by March 18, a deadline unlikely to be met.

Republican Rep. Don Young issued a statement saying the Obama administration is "force-feeding America" a bad bill.

"We should be starting with a clean slate and working in a bipartisan manner to implement commonsense reforms that expand access and lower health care costs," Young said.

Young said he would like to see a model similar to used by Anchorage's Southcentral Foundation, a Native health care organization that allows clients to e-mail doctors with questions and see nurses for routine matters.

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