FEBRUARY 3, 2014
Representing District 15:
Midtown, University, and East Anchorage
I Answer to You!
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State Capitol Room 430
Juneau AK, 99801
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Lives on the Line
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We’re off to a quick start this session. In addition to dealing with important issues like giving our public schools support they can count on and asking the hard questions about the large diameter gasline, I have been able to spend some time working on my own legislation. Last week I offered a bill that would provide health care coverage to Alaskans who need it the most.
|My colleagues and I take a photo on the steps of the Capitol to kick-off session!
Last November, Governor Parnell made the decision not to expand Medicaid program eligibility to Alaskans with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL); equating to an individual making roughly $20,000 in income or a couple making $26,000 in income. That decision left tens of thousands of Alaskans without health care coverage.
The Governor made this decision even though the federal government committed to fund 100% of the costs until the year 2017, at which point funding transitions to 95% in 2017, 94% in 2018, 93% in 2019, and 90% in 2020 and that year forward.
|Medicaid expansion would be fully funded through year 2016, transitioning to 90% in following years
Last session, I offered a resolution that encouraged the Governor to accept the dollars for Medicaid expansion. Yesterday, I offered another piece of legislation that expands Medicaid eligibility to Alaskans with incomes up to 138% FPL as long as the federal government maintains its funding commitment. If at any point the feds are unable to provide support, the state may choose to opt out. We accept millions of dollars to fund our public education system each year. I don’t know why we would oppose accepting those dollars here, when Alaskan lives are at stake.
What is at stake?
- 41,500 uninsured Alaskans
- $1.1 billion in increased federal revenues
- 4,000 new jobs
- $2.5 billion in increased economic activity
- “Scores” of human lives saved (1 in every 176 people)
- Lower health insurance premiums
|Read the Anchorage Daily News article about the proposed piece of legislation here
According to a non-partisan legislative research report, “scores” of human lives (1 in every 176 of the uninsured Alaskans) will be saved if Alaska expands its Medicaid program eligibility.
|Text from a non-partisan legislative research report detailing “scores” of saved lives if we expanded Medicaid
Another non-partisan legislative research report identifies a “donut hole” in the state’s health coverage. Under the Affordable Care Act, the state created a health insurance marketplace where Alaskans can shop for insurance plans that best fit their needs. Those Alaskans earning less income qualify for subsidies. Alaskans earning between 100 and 400% of federal poverty line (FPL) qualify for subsidies. Under our existing Medicaid program, Alaskans earning up to 81% FPL qualify for Medicaid.
|Hard working Alaskans will be left with no coverage without Medicaid expansion
That leaves a “donut hole.” Alaskans earning between 82 and 99% FPL do not qualify for Medicaid or subsidies at the health insurance marketplace. Those numbers translate to between $23,846 and $29,400 of earned income for an employed family of four (2 adults and 2 children).
These Alaskans are the hard working poor who need health coverage the most.
|A family of four making between $23,846 and $29,400 earned income will not have health coverage
In addition to what I believe is a moral duty to ensure that all Alaskans receive adequate health care, the economic benefits to the state are numerous. We can lower health insurance premiums for Alaskans and Alaskan businesses by reducing uncompensated care costs. One estimate is that Alaskans will pay $257 each for the failure of other Alaskans to have health insurance.
|In a recent opinion piece, Alaska State Chamber of Commerce president Rachael Petro wrote how Medicaid expansion is “good business”
Who supports it?
The business community recognizes these benefits and realizes that by failing to expand Medicaid Alaskans are subsidizing healthcare for other Americans while denying care to Alaskans in need. That is why the State Chamber of Commerce and the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce have made Medicaid expansion one of their legislative priorities. Other supporters include, NAACP, United Way, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association and Anchorage Faith and Action Congregations Together.
Ultimately, this decision comes down to giving the chance to make Alaskans happier, healthier, and more productive. Thank you for taking the time to read about this important issue. Please let me know if you support this piece of legislation.
Please contact me if I can be of assistance to you or your family,
I Answer to You!
Representative Andy Josephson
State Capitol Room 430
Juneau AK, 99801