Alaskans should pay attention to attacks on health care reform

Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It is difficult for me to understand how Gov. Sean Parnell and nearly every other Republican in America can be sincerely opposed to health care reform. I have to ask myself: What is it about eliminating preexisting condition clauses and benefit limits that is so bad? Why would we not want millions of Americans and tens of thousands of Alaskans to be added to health care coverage?

Juneau has been my home since 1974. I can't count how many times there have been community fund-raisers to help our neighbors in need with astronomical health care costs. It is wonderful that Juneau is the kind of community where neighbors care about each other, even if they have never met the person who the fund-raiser is for. That is only one of many reasons why Juneau is my home. However, I doubt that these fund-raisers even begin to cover the hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs that can commonly occur from a single health care issue. I think it is time for people to be able to focus on getting well and back to their families instead of their family and friends having to go begging for community help to cover medical costs.

After multiple bouts with cancer, my mother-in-law exceeded the limit on her health care insurance. In her late 70s she had to scramble to find a new insurance provider for her health care. She had a good life past her mid-80s because she was lucky enough to find new insurance. My wife and I depend on health insurance as part of her retirement from the State of Alaska which is excellent insurance. However, a few episodes of cancer treatments could exceed our health insurance limit and leave us destitute. Does Sean Parnell really want to pull the rug out from under public employees and retired state employees like us by going back to medical insurance coverage caps?

All during the health care insurance debate, opposition leaders claimed, "We can not afford health care reform at this time." I'm concerned that many of these same leaders claimed we could not afford health care reform when the Clinton administration was managing a budget with surpluses either. It really looks like what these people are saying is: "We have our health care insurance, so why be concerned about others?"

While heath care reform is still under attack, I hope Alaskans are paying attention and advocating for their own best interest.

Mark Miller


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