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Begich Talks Health Reform With Alaska Seniors

Telephone Town Hall puts thousands in the conversation

In an effort to continue to relay factual information and stay connected with Alaskans on the subject of health reform. U.S. Sen. Mark Begich joined more than 2,300 Alaska seniors last night to discuss health reform through a telephone town hall sponsored by AARP.

Seniors from across Alaska joined the call and asked questions about how health reform will help address high drug prices, access to health care and insurance, Medicare fraud, coverage for young adults, and other topics. An AARP poll of callers during the call showed that 67% of the seniors support health care reform.

"Alaska seniors have heard a lot of misinformation about health reform," Begich said. "Last night's call showed that Alaska seniors want health reform, not only to ensure Alaskans have access to health care and insurance but also to make sure America can compete in today's world economy."

The call took place just as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released a new Senate health reform bill. Although Begich is still reviewing the bill, he is pleased it addresses several of his key health reform concerns, including health insurance reforms to ensure Alaskans with pre-existing conditions and high health care costs have access to health insurance. More than 133,000 Alaskans currently do not have health insurance.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill will cost $849 billion and cut the budget deficit by $127 billion over ten years. In the second decade of implementation, the bill will reduce the deficit by $650 billion.

"There's a lot of work to do still and plenty of time for us to debate this bill," Begich added. "My goal is to get a bill passed that protects taxpayers of this country and ensures all Alaskans have access to affordable health care while also holding insurance companies accountable. "

Begich has posted the entire health care bill proposed by Sen. Reid, Sen. Max Baucus, Sen. Christopher Dodd and Sen. Tom Harkin on his Web site at http://begich.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=HealthCare

Sen. Begich has held several health care town halls in Alaska in recent months including in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks.

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