My Turn: Wanted: Reasoned thinking about health care

Posted: Wednesday, October 18, 2006

It should come as no surprise to us that health care and access to health care are in a state of perpetual chaos for Alaskans.

Sound off on the important issues at

The health platform of the Alaska Democratic Party states a mission of government is to provide for the health of all Alaskans. The platform further states it is the right of all Alaskans to make personal medical decisions. The platform supports a quality health care system that is accessible, equitable and affordable for all Alaskans.

With respect to health, the platform of the Alaska Republican Party supports the sanctity of human life, parental control of all medical care, a ban on stem cell research/human cloning, provision of life-sustaining measures for seniors and support of the death penalty.

What is desperately needed is reasoned thinking and focused planning about health care in Alaska. The following questions would suggest some inequities that must be addressed:

• What is to be done about the estimated 120,000 (18 to 19 percent) Alaskans who have no health insurance?

• Why is it necessary for Alaskans to work two or three jobs and still have no health insurance?

• What is to be done about the Medicare recipients in Alaska who have only the very basics (Plan B and Plan A) but who have no dental, vision or other supportive services? What is to be done about the gaps in provision of pharmaceuticals?

• What do our candidates have to say about universal health care and single-payer health care? What is really understood about these concepts?

• How best can the state of Alaska integrate equitably private insurance, Native corporations, Indian Health Service, military, Medicare, Medicaid, self-pay and no Insurance health care for the people in our state?

• What plans do our candidates have for integrating optimum health care that addresses Alaskans' need for clinical medicine, preventive medicine and public health into a comprehensive and workable system? Each of these standing alone will not serve the best interests of the people.

• What are the basic health care components (clinical, preventive and public health) that shall be available for each Alaskan?

• What and where are the responsibilities and accountabilities for health care provision in Alaska? This must be addressed with the health care professions and institutions, the payers of health care, the "overseers" of health care, the bureaucrats and lobbyists, and (most importantly) the participants in health care (patients and clients). This desperately needs to be addressed so that all of the players are at the table with minimal turf politics.

It is very telling, informative, and well worth a study of the Web pages for Tony Knowles and Sarah Palin.

I believe this: If we do not take care of ourselves, it is highly unlikely that anyone else is going to do this for us.

• Dr. Carolyn V. Brown lives in Douglas.

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