FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2013
It’s “Unconscionable”: Democratic Legislators Decry Governor’s Decision to Reject Medicaid Expansion
Today, Representative Andy Josephson and Representative Geran Tarr offered the following statements in response to the governor’s decision not to accept the federal government’s offer to expand Medicaid coverage to all Alaskans making less than 138% of the federal poverty level and instead to study the issue for another year.
"The Governor has had two years to study this issue, and now he wants another year? He should have an alternative before he rejects a plan with such broad support. Rejecting Medicaid is a mistake of truly epoch proportions,” said Josephson (D-Anchorage) who called on the governor to accept Medicaid during the last legislative session and again last month. “Simply put, the Governor has just taxed the majority of the Alaska people while he kicks the can down the road. His decision is bad for the health of Alaskans and for the health of our state economy.”
"The Governor’s decision to deny health care coverage to over 40,000 Alaskans is unconscionable,” said Tarr (D-Anchorage) who serves on the House Health and Social Services Committee. “The governor’s kept Alaskans in limbo long enough. Alaskans health care needs will not go away in the next year. I join organizations like the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, NAACP, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, and others in supporting Medicaid expansion and will work next session to find ways to make high quality health care available to all Alaskans."
With the governor’s decision today, Alaska denied Medicaid coverage to around 40,000 low-income Alaskans, many of whom do not have health insurance. Studies have estimated the increased Medicaid coverage would have created 4000 jobs and brought an estimated $1 billion to the state. The Alaska Chamber of Commerce, Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, and the Anchorage chapter of the NAACP, and the Anchorage Faith & Action Congregations Together have all endorsed expanding Medicaid in Alaska for its health and economic benefits.