With the United States Senate currently considering the 2014 budget, Senator Lisa Murkowski is taking advantage of the amendment process to introduce or co-sponsor four pieces of deficit-neutral legislation to address a number of Alaskan needs.
Labeling Frankenfish: Though one national grocery chain has announced they will voluntarily begin labeling all genetically-modified products, there is no national standard to build customer awareness. After building Senate momentum against Frankenfish in an amendment that nearly passed last summer, Murkowski co-sponsored an amendment to require all Frankenfish to be labeled nationwide.
Federal Follow-Through on Fish Disasters: This amendment would help to deliver funds for federally-recognized fisheries disasters in Alaska and other states. The Secretary of Commerce declared fisheries disasters in Alaska, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island. Senator Murkowski has been a leading advocate for these resources, telling her Senate colleagues that fisheries disasters are no different than farm droughts and should be addressed.
"Pay it Forward' on Indian Health Service: This amendment would fund the Indian Health Service a year in advance -- the same way that the Veterans Administration is funded -- to give tribal health administrators greater security and certainty in managing and delivering tribal health programs. Over the past ten years, I.H.S. funding has gone out an average of three months late -- undercutting the ability of managers to plan, care and staff.
Remove Barriers to Medicare Access: In language very similar to Senator Murkowski's Medicare Patient Empowerment Act introduced in February, she filed an amendment that would allow Medicare recipients to see a physician outside of the system, receive care, and pay the physician for any difference between what Medicare pays and the full charge. Many Alaskan physicians are supportive of Murkowski's amendment, like Dr. Mary Ann Foland of Anchorage, who has called the legislation a "win-win" for Alaskans.