Murkowski says cooperation key to improved care

Posted: Friday, August 30, 2002

U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski, now the lone Republican candidate for governor, unveiled his vision for the future of health care in Alaska at the annual meeting of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association in Soldotna Thursday.

Murkowski, who on Tuesday easily won the Republican primary election, said better cooperation between the state and health care providers is the key to ensuring that all Alaskans receive adequate health care.

"For the last few years, our state has seen more finger pointing and blame games than cooperation and problem solving," Murkowski said.

"This is not the Alaska we want or deserve."

Murkowski went on to say that if elected, he'd make it a priority to provide better health care opportunities to all Alaskans -- regardless of people's location or wealth.

"I firmly believe that every Alaskan deserves access to quality health care services," he said.

Murkowski made several statements outlining what direction his administration would take on health care issues. He said his record on women's health issues was strong, and that he would work to uphold existing laws.

"The courts have ruled that women have the right to an abortion. I will uphold the law. However, I believe most Alaskans agree with me that it is inappropriate to use public funds to pay for abortions that are not medically necessary," he said.

Murkowski also addressed the rising cost of prescription drugs, saying he was the gubernatorial candidate who could best work to drive down drug costs. The state needs to do more to find good bargains on drugs, he said.

"I will direct my commissioner of Health and Social Services to closely examine the state's prescription drug expenditures and work with drug manufacturers to guarantee that Alaska is receiving the best price on medications," he said.

Murkowski said curbing Alaska's substance abuse problems also would be an integral part of his health care package.

Murkowski noted that Alaska has the highest rate of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in the United States, and said he'd work to control alcohol and drug abuse, especially in rural areas of the state.

"We need to do a better job of controlling the flow of alcohol in this state. The economic toll of alcohol abuse, and the associated domestic violence, property crime and delinquency is weighing our communities down," Murkowski said.

In concluding his remarks, Murkowski told the health care professionals that his extensive time in the U.S. Senate made him the best choice for governor from a health care standpoint because of the large amount of federal money the state receives for health care.

"The federal government will always be a major player in Alaska's health care system, and the state needs a governor who knows how to work with Washington, D.C., to maximize resources and programs," he said. "I am that person."

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