‘Hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of local capital investment are on the line,’ says Representative Zack Fields
JUNEAU – Governor Mike Dunleavy’s proposal to cut Medicaid spending is touted as a cost-saving measure, but would actually cause hundreds of job losses and force major Alaska hospitals to cancel tens of millions of dollars in planned capital improvements.
“As a result of the budget announcement, Alaska Regional (Hospital in Anchorage) has put its planned 26 in-patient behavioral health unit on hold, perhaps indefinitely,” Becky Hultberg, president of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Association, recently told the House State Affairs Committee. “Mat-Su (Regional Hospital) is planning a psychiatric in-patient They’re also planning to expand their emergency department. It’s the fastest-growing area in the state, and they have a planned in-patient expansion. All of those right now are threatened and under reconsideration. It amounts to over $55 million of capital spending in that community.”
The governor’s proposed cuts would also lead to an increase in “uncompensated care,” when a healthcare provider picks up the bill for someone who is uninsured. When this happens, costs are passed onto paying customers and their health insurance companies, and community and hospital services are cut back.
“Hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of local capital investment are on the line. We need stability and predictability for businesses in our communities,” said Representative Zack Fields, co-chair of the State Affairs Committee.