Representative Matt Claman's Alaska Matters
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Protecting Your Rights: Serving Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain
March 20, 2015
In this issue:
• Constituent pizza party
• Governor Walker’s Medicaid bill
• Medicaid expansion lunch and learn
• WWAMI Medical School
• Follow us!

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

On Tuesday, Governor Walker introduced a Medicaid expansion and reform bill. Earlier this session, I explained in  this electronic newsletter why I support increasing access to affordable healthcare to more Alaskans while boosting our state’s economy. Over 75% of those who responded to our constituent survey support Medicaid expansion. I will continue to support Medicaid expansion for those reasons.

Constituent Pizza Party

Join us this Sunday, March 22nd from 2pm to 4pm at Sand Lake Elementary for a Constituent Pizza Party!
Join us this Sunday, March 22
nd from 2pm to 4pm at Sand Lake Elementary for a Constituent Pizza Party!

This Sunday, March 22nd, I will be back in Anchorage for a constituent pizza party with Senator Mia Costello and Representative Liz Vazquez from 2pm to 4pm at Sand Lake Elementary School. I would be happy to talk with you about the current legislative sessions, the issues we’re addressing, and any other suggestions or concerns you may have. I hope to see you there!

Governor Walker’s Medicaid Bill

At a press conference on Tuesday, Governor Walker introduced a Medicaid reform and expansion bill, which was partly in response to the operating budget approved by the House Majority that does not currently include support for Medicaid reform and expansion. Opponents to Medicaid expansion sometimes cite the need to reform the State’s Medicaid program before expanding Medicaid to cover the thousands of Alaskans who do not have access to affordable healthcare. This bill will both reform and expand the state’s Medicaid program by instituting cost saving initiatives that will save the State approximately $6 million according to a recent report commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Services.

Governor Bill Walker and Health and Social Services Commissioner Valerie Davidson
Governor Bill Walker and Health and Social Services Commissioner Valerie Davidson

Read the editorial by Becky Hultberg (ASHNA) here and the Economist article here

Medicaid reform is a necessary and ongoing process. Fortunately, we already see Medicaid, Medicare, and health care reform happening due more to market forces rather than changes to regulations and laws. In a recent editorial, Becky Hultberg, CEO to the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Association explained: “Healthcare is undergoing radical transformation, away from a system that pays for volume to a system that pays for value. Transformation is hard, requiring organizations to take risk and innovate. Just like any other industry, risk and innovation require capital. Medicaid expansion, through reductions in uncompensated care, provides the capital that can power innovation and transformation.”

Additionally, the Economist recently reviewed positive changes in the healthcare market: “America is experiencing its slowest growth in health spending in five decades. In 2013 the share of GDP devoted to health care was the same as it was in 2009.”

Medicaid Expansion “Lunch and Learn”

Hultberg recently spoke at a legislative “lunch and learn,” which is a forum for legislators to informally learn about current subjects. Hultberg dismissed claims such as “the State can’t depend on the federal government to contribute dollars needed for Medicaid expansion.” A former Department of Administration Commissioner under Governor Sean Parnell, Hultberg noted that the State does not question receiving federal funding for other divisions of state government. For example, in fiscal year 2012 alone, the state received $565 million from the Federal Highway Administration.

Watch the entire lunch and learn on Medicaid expansion here and view Hultberg’s presentation here
Watch the entire lunch and learn on Medicaid expansion
here and view Hultberg’s presentation here

On top of savings to the State and increased economic activity, Medicaid expansion will make Alaskans healthier and more productive. The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium commissioned a report which concludes that by expanding Medicaid, Alaska stands to gain:

•     $1.1 billion in new federal revenue for Alaska
•     4,000 new jobs
•     $1.2 billion more in wages and salaries paid to Alaskans
•     $2.49 billion in increased economic activity throughout the state

Finally, the Catholic Health Association declares Medicaid expansion a moral imperative: “We are inspired by the wisdom of the social doctrine of the Church, which teaches that each person is created in the image of God; that each human life is sacred and possesses inalienable worth; and that health care is essential to promoting and protecting the inherent dignity of every individual….. The Catholic Health Association supports the expansion of the Medicaid program to everyone under 138 percent of the Federal poverty level. Access to Medicaid can mean the difference between life and death.”

As the Governor put it, “Medicaid expansion is the right thing to do.”

WWAMI Medical School

WWAMI stands for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho and it refers to a program in which these five western states partner together to offer in-state tuition for medical students from all five states. Each year, 20 Alaskan students complete their first year of medical school in Alaska and then complete medical school at the University of Washington—all at resident tuition rates. This program saves Alaska the costs of having our own stand-alone medical school while strengthening our ability to able to grow our own doctors. For example, the cost for medical education in Alaska is $4.62 per capita versus $22.74 per capita in Texas—a savings of about 80%. Increasing the number of general practice physicians in Alaska is an important part of controlling the cost of medical care in Alaska. Many WWAMI graduates return to Alaska as family practice physicians.

In the House Finance Committee’s version of the operating budget, the House Majority added language to try to end the entire program in three years. I offered an amendment to remove the terminate-the-program language on the House floor, but this language passed the House and is now under consideration by the Senate. The Alaska Dispatch News recently wrote an article about WWAMI and the Operating Budget that you can read here. If you are a supporter of WWAMI, please consider writing your Senator and the Senators of the Senate Finance Committee to explain the importance of this program. Please contact my office if you have any questions.

As always, please let us know if you have suggestions or concerns.

signed: Matt Claman

    Rep. Matt Claman

    P.S. follow me on Facebook and Twitter

Contact Information

(907) 465-4919

State Capitol Bldg. Rm 405
Juneau, Alaska 99801

Contact the Governor

550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1700
Anchorage, AK 99501
T (907) 269-7450 F (907) 269-7461
EMAIL: Governor Bill Walker


State Info (907) 269-5111

Serving the Anchorage Neighborhoods of
Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain

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