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On the agenda for 2018: Health care solutions and the blob

  • Author: Shannyn Moore
    | Opinion
  • Updated: December 30, 2017
  • Published December 30, 2017

It looks like someone has shaken the snow globe outside my window. I can still see the sunlight and blue sky behind the ridge. Like most of you, I'm keeping track of the extra minute or so of daylight we're getting a day. They matter, and as you know, add up in pretty short order. By February we'll be in normal light zones again.

I've reheated the same cup of coffee a few times. It's hard to be inspired looking at the 2017 lists everyone is writing. All the great musicians and actors who have died get a mass eulogy. I'm still a bit tore up about losing Mary Tyler Moore. (No relation.) The top ten natural disasters are getting top billing for hurricanes, floods and fires. If history is any indicator, that's not going to get better next year. All the volunteer DJs on our local radio station are playing songs from the newly dead. I can't take it. I'm still processing David Bowie and Leonard Cohen leaving us in 2016.

Maybe you don't care what the top ten tweets were. Maybe you were more interested in tweets at one of the shore bird festivals. If so, well, you're probably healthier in soul and mind for it. So you don't really want to see your "year in review" brought to you by Facebook? Me neither. Unless you finally figured out how to make bacon jam and posted the recipe because that stuff is addictive.

So if we are in agreement that looking back has been covered pretty heavy, and on the eve of the new year, we will look at what's coming up. There's two major issues we are going to have to be grownups about and try to find a solution. I know, it's more fun to hear what Terry Gross thought were her best interviews from 2017, but maybe if we put our problems in out collective think bank we'll be able to figure out some solutions.

First, and stay with me because it's an old problem, is health care. Recently there was an article that listed the number one public sector employer in each state. Walmart had top billing for 22 states. Thank goodness our state starts with an "A" so I didn't have to scroll too far to find ours. The largest private employer in Alaska is Providence Health Care. Recently, our delegation to Washington, D.C., voted for a tax bill that limits cancer treatment for Medicaid patients and repeals the ACA mandate. About 20,000 Alaskans who have had their medical care covered through the CHIP- (Children's Health Insurance Program) funded Denali KidCare, will be uncovered end of March 2018.

I'm not going to rant about the immorality of children and pregnant women losing health care. What are these decisions going to do to an economy that has so many employees in our state? Everyone wants to talk about the economic stability for oil companies, but seem pretty quiet about the folks providing health care to Alaskans. Medical jobs aren't like North Slope workers who jump on a plane and head back to whatever state they live in. For some reason, trading our health care seemed like a great swap for ANWR. I'm not buying it.

Hundreds of Alaskans lined the banks at the mouth of the Kenai River in Kenai for the sockeye salmon dipnet fishery on July 11, 2017. (Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News)

The second issue to keep on the radar is "the blob." It's this big warm messy ball of water floating out in the Gulf of Alaska that is having a Hitchcock affect on our fisheries. Maybe you're a halibut snob and don't like cod — but millions of people around the world eat it, and they aren't doing well in blob conditions. The king salmon aren't coming back to Southeast Alaska rivers. They've had to cancel their derbies and people aren't able to figure out how the blob is taking the resources. The Kenai River kings are in dire numbers and our brothers and sisters on the Yukon are saying "welcome to our world."

In my own little neighborhood on Kachemak Bay, the returning salmon were tested for their origin. Half of them were from hatcheries in Prince William Sound. They were a long way from home and had no idea. Hatchery creep is real, and it's time to stop thinking there are some rules that salmon will abide by when we dump them into the wild. I'm trying to turn my worry about being the last generation with fish security into awareness. Salmon are sacred. Maybe we should take care of them.

My dear Alaskans, all the best to you and yours in the coming year. We have our work cut out for us.

Shannyn Moore is a radio broadcaster.

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