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Letters to the Editor

Readers write: Letters to the editor, June 28, 2017

  • Author: Alaska Dispatch News
    | Opinion
  • Updated: June 27, 2017
  • Published June 27, 2017


Don't give tax cuts to wealthy; instead, let's cover everyone

How many Alaskans need to lose their health care before our senators vote no on the "non-health care but a tax cut for the wealthy" bill? Don't they realize that the non-insured will delay medical care until the problem is dire, and go to emergency room, which they can't afford, and are admitted to the hospital, which they sure can't afford, and if they survive they will be forced into bankruptcy? Now they are broke and poorer and so are we; after all, we will pay for their bills through higher costs at the hospital or higher taxes (the hospital deducts the loss from their taxes). The cuts to Medicaid down the line raise costs to all Alaskans. Please protect Alaskans instead of ideology.

So why don't we do the smart thing and cover everyone (such as Medicare for all who are working and Medicaid for those who are not), not give tax cuts to the wealthy. The insurance companies would still provide supplemental and Part D coverage as well as "Cadillac" policies for our very rich friends. This would make the playing field level for all the businesses, since everyone is covered, no insurance costs for any business except maybe supplemental and Part D. If you, our senators, really are serious about reducing costs, repeal the "no negotiations with drug companies."

— Bill Harbin

Medicare is far better than
insurance writer used to have

We may soon know if either of our Alaska U.S. senators is willing to concoct an excuse to throw 100,000 Alaskans under the bus for the opportunity to stay in Sen. McConnell's good graces. Oddly, the same vote will deliver a giant tax break to wealthy families, their families included.

By the way, have you ever wondered why the same industry complaining about the exorbitant costs of insuring their workers also pays lobbyists to lobby against Bernie Sanders' proposal to lift the burden from their shoulders with better quality, lower deductible coverage through a single-payer system? Bernie wants to expand Medicare to cover every American of every age through Medicare. I'm on Medicare; my annual deductible is $183, my monthly premium is $134, and I've had no difficulty finding doctors who accept Medicare. It's less costly, and vastly superior to the coverage my real estate company once provided for myself and my employees.

Yes, taxes would go up just a bit, but the tax increases would be nowhere near the cost savings for the premiums industry would no longer pay. Could it be that industry views controlled access to medical care through cheap employment as the worthwhile cost of forcing middle-class Americans into the cheap-labor harnesses that pull the profit strings of their industry?

— Ray Metcalfe

If Alaska can afford Big Oil welfare, it's not time for taxes

Whether it is a dollar paid to small producers or a tax credit or voucher given to Big Oil, it is a transfer of the wealth of Alaska to private industry set into motion by our former governor and ConocoPhillips lobbyist Sean Parnell. The House is trying to limit small producer credits but have not even begun to address the Big Oil giveaway. And as long as the our Legislature and governor continue to allow this transfer to the oil industry, we certainly have no need for individual income or sales tax. If anyone is getting a free ride, it's Big Oil.

Article 9, section 6 of the Alaska Constitution states, "No tax shall be levied, or appropriation of public money made, or public property transferred, nor shall the public credit be used, except for a public purpose." Allowing Big Oil to mooch off our treasury and oil reserves is not a public purpose — it is a private, profit-making purpose. Once our Legislature and governor end this tax credit waste, we may have enough money to pay for government. Until then, don't ask me to pay Big Oil welfare.

— Wayne Blank, CPA

New direction: Alaska news first

The good news is the editors at Alaska Dispatch News have asked for suggestions from their readers. What appears to be the disappointing news: The ADN editors are not listening.

Front page above the fold today (June 27) "CBO: 22 million would join uninsured" and also "Supreme Court to hear case on travel ban." The ADN editors are underestimating their readers' intelligence because those news stories appeared in great detail 20 hours previous on the radio and television. The articles should have been inside the paper. The main story should have been "Here comes the caribou."

The news that appeared above the fold came from the financially failing Washington Post and The New York Times. If ADN wants to succeed they should head in a new direction: Alaska news first.

— Dorrance Collins and Faith Myers

To keep people safe, kill wild animals

Another bear attack! When will Fish and Game, the parks departments and the people finally figure it out? Wild animals and people don't mix. When I moved here 35 years ago, I recall few problems with wild animals locally because people then knew wild animals and people don't mix, and the bears and moose were eliminated because they had been known to be a problem.

In the last decade, people, mostly those who have never had a problem, either because they were "bush wise" or ignorant, have promoted "wildness" in our city and adjacent parks. New York City, Chicago and a host of metropolitan areas used to have wild animals but have eliminated them from their environs for good reason. What is our problem — ignorance, stupidity, what? How many attacks and/or fatalities will it take? Wise up. People and wild animals don't mix!

— Wes Sutterlin

This veteran appreciates VA's help

The news is filled with complaints about the VA. I am a veteran with a different story. I use a power wheelchair that tilts back to horizontal, so I am not sitting on my bottom all day. Around 10:30 a.m. on Friday, I was tilted back and needed to sit forward when the screen on my controls flashed (Contact Service Technician). Then the screen went blue with the word PRISM (manufacturer) on it. I could not turn the wheelchair on or off and I definitely could not lower myself back down to a sitting position. In this tilted position I could not get through the doorway to reach the ceiling-mounted Hoyer lift (made possible by a VA grant). Now I couldn't get out of my wheelchair.

Luckily my caregiver, provided through the VA, arrived at 11:15 a.m. She could not get it to work and so helped me call the VA. When I told the nurse in the specialty clinic my dilemma, she immediately convened the care team at the VA and called me back within 20 minutes with the authorization sent to the people who service the wheelchair.

Now, that is a quick, efficient response and allowed me to get the help I needed.
Thank you and kudos to the VA here in Anchorage from a very grateful veteran.

— Penny Hlavna

Three changes could help resolve
health care and insurance issues

Dear Sens. Murkowski and Sullivan, Gov. Walker and the Alaska Legislature:
At this critical juncture where health care laws are being changed, here are three recommendations for dealing with the health care/insurance crisis.

First, make medical billing rates transparent. Most people have no idea how much the fees are for medical services received until they get their bills weeks or months later. Even then, the bills can be arcane and not easily understood. Requiring that all health care providers post their prices on the internet would allow the public, patients and health insurers to compare prices. Such price transparency will foster competition and help drive down medical rates, which theoretically would to help contain health insurance premiums. (Compare the transparency and ease of shopping for airline travel on the internet.)

Second, the laws should be changed to allow for the purchase of health insurance across state lines. Right now the number of health insurers doing business in Alaska and other states is dwindling, causing premiums to skyrocket. Creating a national marketplace for health insurance would help foster competition among health insurers and theoretically drive down rates.

Finally, under ERISA, health insurers cannot be sued for bad-faith handling of health insurance claims. That immunity should be repealed, and health insurers should be held to the same standards of good faith and fair dealing on handling claims as other insurers.

There are no easy answers to out-of-control medical prices or health insurance premiums. However, these three proposals would allow market forces to do their job and ensure health insureds are treated fairly.

— Rebecca Rogers

Kudos to senators on Russian hacking

I was happy to see that our senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, were a part of the overwhelming majority of the Senate in voting for sanctions against Russia for their hacking and meddling in our election system and process. This was long overdue.

The lack of response from the executive branch regarding Russia's attacks on our election process is most disheartening.

I hope that our senators also take a stance against the GOP health care plan, which involves a phase-down in Medicaid and extreme cuts in Medicare. Let's not punish the most vulnerable part of our population by denying them adequate health care.

— Jim Bailey

The views expressed here are the writers' own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a letter under 200 words for consideration, email, or click here to submit via any web browser. Submitting a letter to the editor constitutes granting permission for it to be edited for clarity, accuracy and brevity. Send longer works of opinion to

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