SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Health Care Reform subject of long-distance conversation


August 03, 2009

Continuing his efforts to stay connected to Alaskans through innovative technology, United States Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) held a Tele Town Hall last Monday night, talking to hundreds of Alaskans about health care reform.

Using the e-communications tool called iTownhall, Alaskans were able to have an interactive conversation with Sen. Begich during an hour-long telephone call. For the call, the phone numbers of 40,000 Alaskans were dialed through an automated system just before 6 pm Alaska time. A recorded message tells recipients they can instantly join a town hall conference with the senator. An estimated 1,000 Alaskans took part in the call, either listening or having the chance to ask questions.

"Health care reform is one of the most important topics Congress is addressing right now, and I want to continue to hear the ideas and priorities of Alaskans." Sen. Begich said. "The tele town hall was a great way to connect with hundreds of Alaskans, take questions, and have an active discussion, all with me in D.C."

Previously, Sen. Begich has held two live Health Care Town Hall meetings in Alaska; one in Juneau and one in Anchorage. A third is scheduled for Sept. 26 from 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. in the Schaible Auditorium at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

In his message to Alaskans Monday night, Sen. Begich talked about doing health care reform correctly, but stressed that it cannot wait for future years. He mentioned the need to contain costs and a recent letter he and eight other senators sent to Sen. Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, making the point that true health care reform must drive down how much we are all paying for medical care.

"Now is not the time to say no. It's time for Congress to roll up its sleeves and hammer out a comprehensive health care reform bill that works for America," Begich said.

Begich also outlined his priorities for reform which include:

  • Making sure people can keep their coverage;
  • Increasing the number of people with health coverage;
  • Preserving the private patient-doctor relationship, keeping insurances companies and the government out of the doctor's office;
  • Covering people with pre-existing condition;
  • Improving veterans' health care;
  • Strengthening Indian Health Services;
  • Promoting prevention;
  • Making reform work for small business.

At the end of the telephone call, those on the line were told they could leave their comments or questions in a custom mailbox, a feature that produced 4 12 hours worth of recorded calls. Begich said he will continue to use the iTownhall technology to talk to Alaskans on a regular basis on a variety of topics important to the state.



Source of News:

Office of U.S. Senator Mark Begich


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