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President Trump rattles the Middle East, saying the U.S. will recognize Israel’s authority over the Golan Heights. Also on our Friday rundown: A judge blocks laws limiting the power of the new Wisconsin governor. Plus, momentum builds across party lines to abolish the death penalty.

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Virginians Get a Say in Shaping Obama's Health Care Plan

January 12, 2009

Richmond – President-elect Obama hopes to avoid the failures of past administrations as he develops a plan for meeting the health care needs of America. The Presidential Transition Team is sponsoring health care town meetings across the commonwealth, the results of which will be studied by former Sen. Tom Daschle, Obama's pick for Health and Human Services secretary, as he crafts new policy. Sen. Daschle faced his former colleagues last week during a confirmation hearing, saying the first step in health care reform is to change how the government communicates with Americans.

Rick Shin, public affairs director for the Virginia Community Healthcare Association, applauds the town hall effort.

"The administration needs to gather input from as many varied sources of information and data as possible to be able to make any kind of change and transition."

Shinn is particularly interested in recommendations on how to serve people who live in medically under-served areas of Virginia.

"Access to health care is a weekly, if not a daily issue, when there are no providers in my community; perhaps where there are no doctors, no dentists, or health insurance is an issues."

Community health care centers care for everyone, no matter the cost, says Shinn, and could serve as a model for health care reform. U.S. Census numbers show nearly 14 percent of Virginians are uninsured. Some critics say holding public meetings won't likely address how to pay for health insurance reform.

Aries Keck, Public News Service - VA