Republican Controlled Leadership in the Legislature Refused to Allow a Vote on Expansion Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 16, 2015

ANCHORAGE – Today, Alaska Governor Bill Walker announced plans to take advantage of federal funding to expand eligibility for Medicaid in Alaska.  This action is supported by the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition, which made Medicaid expansion a priority during the First Session of the 29th Alaska Legislature. 

“Governor Walker is being forced to use his executive power to expand Medicaid because the Republican controlled leadership in the House and Senate refused to properly consider an expansion bill this past session,” said Coalition Leader Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage).  “We have an opportunity to get healthcare for 40,000 Alaskans and receive nearly $400,000 a day federal funding. It’s the right and moral thing to do and our Coalition applauds the Governor’s leadership on this issue.”

Medicaid expansion comes with tremendous benefits including over a billion dollars in new federal revenue over the next six year, the creation of 4,000 jobs, and $1.2 billion in additional wages and salaries.  Studies suggest Medicaid expansion would result in $2.49 billion in increased economic activity across Alaska.  

“Multiple legal opinions show the Governor has the authority to expand Medicaid,” said Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage).  “Medicaid expansion is supported by the public and, I believe, a majority of lawmakers but that did not sway the Majority leadership, which refused to allow an up or down vote on the matter.  The Governor’s decision is justified based on the merits of the argument and the inaction of the Alaska Legislature.”

Currently, around 120,000 Alaskans receive healthcare through the Medicaid program.  The Governor’s action will expand the program to residents whose income is within 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.  It’s estimated that an additional 42,000 Alaskans will be eligible for health coverage under Medicaid expansion with 20,000 residents expected to sign up the first year.  The federal government will pay for 100 percent of the expansion costs in this fiscal year.  The federal match will gradually decline to 90 percent beginning in FY 2020.

###