NEWS: Non-Partisan Legal Opinion Shows Governor Walker Has the Authority to Expand Healthcare Options for Thousands of Vulnerable Alaskans

Rep. Andrew Josephson

Rep. Josephson Renews Call for Republican Leadership to Set Aside Politics and Follow the Wishes of the People

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 19, 2015

ANCHORAGE – On Tuesday, a small handful of Republican lawmakers voted to authorize a lawsuit seeking to block Alaska Governor Bill Walker’s decision to use his executive powers to expand Medicaid eligibility in Alaska.  This decision was made following a closed door, executive session and was made without the support of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition or the input of the people of Alaska.  Representative Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage) has long been a supporter Medicaid expansion and authored legislation allowing the Walker Administration to accept federal funds to provide vital healthcare to an estimated 40,000 Alaskans.

“My bill never received a hearing and I believe the Republican leadership never seriously considered the bill submitted by the Governor,” said Rep. Josephson.  “At nearly every turn during this past legislative session, the Republican controlled leadership ignored the wishes of the people and a majority of lawmakers by not properly considering and voting on the Medicaid expansion issue.”

In late July, Rep. Josephson asked the non-partisan Division of Legal and Research Services for a legal opinion about the legality of Governor Walker’s decision to accept millions of dollars for Medicaid expansion after the Republican controlled leadership failed to act during the first session of the 29th Alaska Legislature.  The opinion clearly shows that Governor Walker has sufficient authority to accept federal funding for Medicaid expansion.  The legal opinion also notes that legislative intent language inserted into the FY 2016 budget seeking to stop Medicaid expansion is likely unenforceable.  That language was inserted into the budget over the objections of the members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition who tried repeatedly to push the Medicaid expansion issue to a vote on the House floor.  Those efforts were squashed by the Republican controlled leadership in the House.

“Multiple legal opinions show the Governor has the authority to expand Medicaid and multiple polls show it has widespread public support,” said Rep. Josephson.  “Republican controlled leadership used binding caucus rules to prevent expansion authorization in the budget and they even went so far as to use seldom used parliamentary maneuvers to stifle debate about the expansion concept during the amendment process for the budget.  I am a strong believer in our independent court system and I believe that it will find that Governor Walker does have the authority to unilaterally move forward with Medicaid expansion.”

Rep. Josephson continues to support expanding Medicaid eligibility in Alaska and is confident the courts will allow expansion to go forward beginning next month.

For more information contact Rep. Josephson’s office at (907) 269-0265.

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