More than 700 attend Murkowski town hall

Posted: Sunday, August 23, 2009

ANCHORAGE - More than 700 people attended Sen. Lisa Murkowski's town hall meeting on health care in Anchorage.

The Anchorage Daily News reported most audience members Thursday night shared her skepticism about the Obama administration plan.

The Republican said health care reform is needed but Medicare is a broken system and shouldn't be used as a basis for a new plan.

"We can go ahead and promise you a card and say you're now covered. But if we can't give you the care that you need, if you can't get in to see a doctor, we can't help you," Murkowski told the crowd at the Dimond High School.

There also were supporters of revamping health care. A Dimond High School student received applause when she said that people weren't upset about the nation spending huge amounts for war, but are now angrily objecting when it's for health care.

"I'd rather pay off the money where the debt went to help people rather than killing them," she said.

It was a much different crowd than the town hall meeting Democratic Sen. Mark Begich held in Anchorage in June. Most of those who attended that meeting indicated they wanted some sort of a "public option" government-run insurance plan.

The meeting Thursday was civil, but some in the audience said the plan smacked of socialism and that's not the kind of country they wanted to live in.

"Every part of the government I deal with is inefficient down to the post office. Why would we want the government to be in charge of health care in the United States?" Tom McGrath said Thursday night to applause.

Dr. Ilona Farr, a family practice doctor in Anchorage, said that low reimbursement rates are driving doctors out of business. What's needed, she argued, are health savings accounts free from government bureaucracy, and allowing doctors to write off the cost of patients who can't afford the accounts.

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