Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pelosi promises on Native health care

From Indian Country Today:

“[W]e cannot ask Indian people to be penalized for choosing to use the Indian health care system,” Pelosi wrote.
“The House bill will ensure that the exemption from the financial penalties is extended to members of federally recognized Indian tribes, and that the tribally provided health care benefits are appropriately protected.”

Many lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, agree that American Indians have already paid for the cost of their health care many times over due to wrongful loss of lands, broken treaties, bad federal policy and other historical injustices imposed on tribal nations.

It's interesting to hear the "health care" buzz words going on at AFN/Youth and Elders conference downtown lately. The Alaska Federation of Natives convention is the largest gathering of Native people in the state, and there is always lots of politics going on.

Energy and economy, of course, are major topics, but in casual conversation alone, I heard so many Alaska Native people talking about health care.Technically, the convention hasn't started yet (tomorrow it kicks off) but the traditional Youth and Elders conference was packed with people talking about health care and what's going to happen. This from a people who, by majority, receive a differentform of health care than the average American.

At the very least, the focus on health care reform has created a genuine dialogue about health care where there was not one before. I can only think that's a good thing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Alaska Teritorial Guard benefits

If you haven't heard, last week the senate voted to keep the language in the defense authorization act to keep retirement pay to the veterans who served in the Alaska Territoral Guard.

Sen. Begich press release

Sen. Murkowski press release

From Begich:
Sens. Begich and Murkowski introduced a bill providing for the pensions to be restored to the ATG members, but were also successful in getting the language into the Defense Authorization Act. Concern arose after the SAP came out questioning the pensions and stating ATG service was state service and therefore not eligible for computation of retired pay.

I happened upon this commentary about it, and thought it was a great little history about the guard, not to mention some plain facts:

Alaskan Senators Lisa Murkowski (R) and Mark Begich (D) successfully brought forth legislation to restore full retirement pay to the surviving members of the ATG who qualify, and they have sent a letter to President Obama asking him to directly intervene. The fact that this should be necessary is a disgusting travesty. The nation, and the Army in particular, owe a debt of personal honor to these men and women – and an apology.