By David G. Katzeek
June 27, 2017
One day, we will tell future generations of our choice. Did we help our neighbors when they were sick, or did we ignore their needs? This is the question before all Alaskans when it comes to Medicaid.
Minority, rural, and underserved communities, including Alaska Natives, have been speaking out on Medicaid, asking our elected representatives in Washington, DC not to abandon the progress we have made toward greater health.
Our state’s improvements in recent years have helped bring essential medical services to those who were not able to access them before. More residents now have access to wellness services, going for checkups, taking prescribed medications, and getting screened for disease – rather than delaying care and relying on the emergency room. This is good for patients, families, communities – as well as taxpayers and our overall healthcare system.
Health outcomes are on an upswing, and uncompensated care at our medical facilities is declining. This is important here in Juneau, where we need to protect existing hospitals and clinics because we cannot easily travel to others. It is also vital in remote places like Klukwan, where my extended family lives, places where the loss of any medical resource can put care hundreds of miles away.
The Tlingit people teach that we must help all human beings, respecting their inherent intelligence and capabilities. Providing adequate healthcare and serving the underserved are ways to show that respect for all Alaskans. I hope that our elected leaders are hearing the stories shared by those who rely on Medicaid and will protect this program.
David G. Katzeek
Received June 25, 2017 - Published June 27, 2017
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