The Senate Finance Committee has adopted their version of the operating budget. It includes a:
I am glad the Senate chose to support the University but I am disappointed in their cuts to public safety and Medicaid. These cuts directly harm Alaskans. Rising crime rates will be difficult to address without the necessary resources. The $70.45 million is equal to a 48% cut to Medicaid services. Thousands of Alaskans are on Medicaid and will experience a decline in their quality of services. Alaskans deserve better than this.
The Senate expects to pass the budget out next week. The House and Senate will then appoint members to a conference committee where we will reconcile the differences in the budget. The House will work towards the best budget for Alaskans and prioritize the essential services that we need.
HB 355: FIRE;FOREST LAND; CRIMES;FIRE PREVENTION:
Today, we passed HB 355 out of the House and it is now being transmitted to the Senate. HB 355 is a comprehensive update to statute and a new tool for preventing human caused fires in Alaska. Forest fires have recently become more common; they destroy land and structures and cost the state millions of dollars. I am hopeful that HB 355 will pass out of the Senate so we can increase fire safety in Alaska.
HB 240: PHARMACY BENEFITS MANAGERS
HB240 moved out of the House Finance Committee on Thursday, April 5th. It is a bill that establishes fair audit criteria for pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) who audit Alaskan pharmacies. In addition to providing protections to Alaskan pharmacies (many of which are independent, small businesses), the bill also creates significant consumer protections thanks to an amendment made in the House Finance Committee. This amendment requires pharmacists to inform patients of the lowest cost option to fill their prescriptions and prohibits pharmacy benefits managers from writing contract language that would keep pharmacists from doing so. I look forward to the bill being heard on the floor and am hopeful it will soon benefit all Alaskans.
Proud to Serve District 4: Ester, Goldstream 1 & 2, Steese East/Gilmore, Steese West, and University Hills