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Alaska Editorials

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Here is a sampling of editorial opinions from Alaska newspapers:

Sept. 1, 2015

Ketchikan Daily News: Great name

Alaska 1, Ohio 0.

The week started out in Alaska's favor when President Obama decided to heed Alaskans' call to rename North America's tallest peak.

Mount McKinley will be no more. Denali, a historical name of the peak, will become the official name.

Obama's administration made the announcement preceding his Monday visit to Alaska.

Denali is the Athabascan name for the mountain, meaning "the high one." It's also known as The Great One.

McKinley was the 25th president of the United States. Born in Ohio, he never visited Alaska.

Ohio isn't taking the administration's decision like good sports. Angry, they referred to it as a political stunt and promised to stop Obama's "constitutional overreach."

Whether Obama has the authority to change the name without congressional approval, it is an acknowledgement that the mountain should in fact regain its original name. Ohio wouldn't want its Carew Tower named Denali; it would have no relevant meaning. McKinley has that much meaning to the Athabascans.

The highest peak is in Alaska, and Denali is what Alaskans call it.


Aug. 29, 2015

Peninsula Clarion: Still searching for health care solutions

Access to affordable, timely health care — or lack thereof — continues to make headlines here on the Kenai Peninsula.

Last Monday, U.S. Sen. visited Kenai to hear from veterans about frustrations with the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act, which was implemented a year ago which, for people tangled up in the program, has been dubbed the "No Choice" program. Veterans voiced concerns about long waits and a lack of communication, properly-trained employees and accountability.

On Thursday, the Alaska Division of Insurance approved average rate increases of nearly 40 percent for the two companies, Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield and Moda Health, that provide individual health insurance plans through the federally run online marketplace. The companies cited the state's high cost of services, small market and a small group of individuals with high-cost claims.

And on Friday, a state Superior Court judge rejected a request from the Alaska Legislative Council to block Gov. 's expansion of Medicaid. With the ruling and absent the intervention of the Alaska Supreme Court, expansion of Medicaid could move forward in the coming week. Proponents of Medicaid expansion have said it will provide health care coverage for as many as 40,000 Alaskans; opponents are reluctant to expand a program they say is unsustainable.

Health care is an even an issue at the local level, with the Borough Mayor Mike Navarre's health care task force meeting. The panel is tasked with, among other things, looking for ways to reduce health care costs for everyone, rather than simply shifting the costs from one user group to another.

Sen. Sullivan, speaking about the Choice Act, noted that one of the ironies of its implementation has been that many of the solutions were developed in Alaska.

While it's unfortunate that good ideas from Alaska have been botched in the implementation, the situation does provide some insight as to a way to move forward on an Alaska solution for health care. Alaskans have always demonstrated an ability to think outside the box — or in this case, outside the constraints of any particular program — to develop solutions that work here. Much of it has been from necessity — in most parts of the state, Alaska doesn't have the infrastructure or the population to support programs that might be effective elsewhere.

What's more, Alaskans have never been shy about doing things our own way, generally phrasing that sentiment in terms of not giving a darn about how they do it in the Lower 48.

As has been demonstrated with veterans health care prior to the Choice Act implementation, Alaskans can find solutions that work. What we need is leadership that can put political differences aside to create an environment where those solutions can be put to good use.

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