- Associated Press - Friday, July 14, 2017

Here is a sampling of Alaska editorials:

July 12, 2017

Ketchikan Daily News: Welcome relief

Any relief is a welcome relief.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have OK’d Alaska’s State Innovation Waiver with $332 million over the next five years for Alaskans in the individual health insurance market.

“The waiver provides relief from large premium hikes for 23,000 Alaskans who are currently insured through

the individual market,” says Gov. Bill Walker, who on Tuesday applauded the congressional delegation, the Trump administration and the state Legislature for their efforts in pushing for the waiver. Alaska Division of Insurance Director Lori Wing-Heier proposed the waiver for Alaska.

The money will become part of the Alaska Reinsurance Program, which uses federal dollars to re-insure claims for Alaskans with high-cost medical conditions. Re-insuring lowers health insurance premiums for Alaskans in the individual market.

Premiums are expected to decrease by about 20 percent as a result of the waiver for these Alaskans.

That’s all well and good. Any Alaskan who can get a better health insurance premium, more power to them.

But let’s not stop there. Alaska has some of the highest health care premiums in the nation. Other Alaskans would appreciate innovation creating lower premiums, too.

___

July 14, 2017

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Ferguson fourth to depart from university athletics since March

The departure of longtime University of Alaska Fairbanks hockey coach Dallas Ferguson was a seismic event for the Interior hockey community this week. Ferguson, who was gearing up to start his 10th season with the Alaska Nanooks, not only has been a fixture for the university hockey program but also a major figure for Fairbanks hockey in general. His stewardship of the program out of a turbulent period in the late-2000s put the Nanooks on a stable path, and many within the community will be sorry to see him go. In its search to replace him, UAF would do well to find a candidate of similar caliber.

Mr. Ferguson was hired as UAF’s head hockey coach in 2008 after the acrimonious departure of one-year coach Doc Delcastillo. Taking over a program in which player confidence was at a low ebb, he righted the ship and soon built the team into a solid squad. After his first year in the head coaching position, he was awarded the Central Collegiate Hockey Association’s Coach of the Year honor. The next year, he led the team to its first-ever berth in the NCAA Division I Tournament. Perhaps his most consequential achievement in the eyes of local hockey fans, however, was the domination of in-state foes the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves during his tenure. With the exception of his first year on the job, UAF never has lost the Governor’s Cup -the trophy that belongs to the victor of the annual in-state college hockey series - since he took over as coach. (The Nanooks, however, had to vacate the 2010, 2011 and 2012 titles because of NCAA academic eligibility infractions at UAF.)

Whoever takes over Mr. Ferguson’s spot next at UAF will have big shoes to fill. And the new hockey coach won’t be the only one stepping into a new role. Mr. Ferguson is the fourth UAF athletics coach or assistant coach to depart since March, a possible signal that budget pressure and uncertainty over the future of the college’s sports teams are weighing on the flagship campus’ ability to hire and retain athletic staff. If so, that’s one more reason the Legislature should work diligently toward a fiscal solution that provides certainty for the university and its components, academics and athletics alike.

Mr. Ferguson will now move to his new role as the head coach of the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen, a major junior team at the top level of Canadian junior hockey. Here in Fairbanks, he’ll be missed, and there will surely be no shortage of opinions about who should replace him at the helm of the Nanooks’ hockey program. Whomever the university chooses, let’s hope the new coach rallies the team and builds a cohesive program that develops good players and good people. If you can achieve that as a coach, there is no greater success.


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