Capitol Comments

Alaska presents some unique challenges when it comes to delivering health care to rural residents. Telemedicine is helping to solve some of those challenges.

Laurel Wood, former immunizations director for the Alaska Department of Public Health, told attendees Monday at the CSG/CSG West Health Committee meeting that Alaska is one-fifth the size of lower 48 states. It is twice as large as Texas, but it has a population density of just 1.2 people per square mile.

Tom Massey, office director of policy, communications and operations for the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, said the state’s decision to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act came down to math.

“We figured it would create about 20,000 more jobs over the next 20 years, bring in about $4.4 billion more into our economy and the average household earnings would rise by about $600,” said Massey, who spoke Monday during the CSG/CSG West Health Committee meeting.

Noted author, professor and CNN senior political analyst David Gergen told attendees at Monday’s luncheon session that he’s worried about the world these days.

“We’re coming through a time when the country and the world are in a hell of a mess,” he said. “This is one of the roughest times I can remember, one of the toughest to understand. … There are surprises coming at us regularly both on the domestic side and the international side.”

Climate change is a global problem in need of global solutions, said Cal Dallas, minister of international and intergovernmental relations for the government of Alberta.

“There’s not a person in this room who needs to be convinced that we must continue to develop better policies to balance economic growth with protection of the environment,” Dallas said Sunday at the CSG West Canada Relations Committee. “We are all citizens of the world. We have an obligation to move toward a lower carbon future.”

There are some inherent problems with trying to implement state marijuana laws that, technically, are a federal crime.

Thomas A. Burns, director of pharmacy programs for the Oregon Health Authority, asked attendees at Sunday’s Future of Western Legislatures session if any of them were officers.

“You can’t be in this room,” he laughed. “Everybody else in this room, we’re going to tell you how to aid and abet a federal felony.”

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