Gov. Parnell has raised the banner of “Choose Respect” many times since he became governor, but yet he chooses to not respect the wisdom of two unbiased, thorough studies. The first study on expanding Medicaid coverage for Alaskans was done by The Alaska Native Tribunal Health Consortium. The 38-page study noted that 41,500 individuals presently not insured would be eligible for coverage, (15,700 of those would be Alaska Natives). The expansion would create approximately 3,500 new jobs by 2017. Between the years 2014 and 2020 the cost to the state would be $90.7 million, but the state would receive $1.1 billion in federal funds which more than offsets any costs to the state.
The second study was conducted by the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce. The cost savings achieved by having more Alaskans insured would allow those presently uninsured access to preventive care, (a major cost savings) and decrease the demand for emergency room medical service, (the most expensive care) which shifts the cost of unpaid bills into higher premiums for those Alaskans fortunate enough to have medical coverage.
Gov. Parnell, heed your own advice. “Choose Respect.” Listen to the wisdom from The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce.
Initiative wrong cure for Kenai kings
Bob Penney and the KRSA crowd are going on the attack against Cook Inlet setnetters. The initiative they announced recently, if passed by Alaskan voters, would make it illegal for this traditional, incremental part of our economy to continue.
Any unbiased, seasoned observer knows that the Kenai River king is in trouble. But, the fundamental reason for this is not attributable to setnetters. The real reason for the failure of the king run is a combination of in-river degredations: severe overfishing on spawning beds by as many as 600 high-powered vessels per day, 30 years of continuous erosion of riverbank habitat by the in-river sport fleet, turbidity (dirty water caused by erosion and outboards), many years of oil pollution as a result of 2-stroke outboards, hygrading of the big kings, and poor management practices whereby the Board of Fisheries has allowed overfishing.
It is quite probable that the mortality caused by catch and release fishing is greater than the 13 percent of the run that is harvested by setnetters. And setnetters do not harvest early run kings at all, yet the early run is in big trouble. This should be enough scientific proof to allow reasonable thinkers to conclude that this is an in-river problem, not a problem with setnetting.
The anti-setnet initiative is like the doctor who has the patient on the operating table and removes the kidney instead of the gall bladder. Yes, something dramatic needs to happen to preserve the Kenai king, but eliminating setnetters is reflective of an incorrect diagnoses.