Expanding Medicaid Must Happen Before the End of Session in April
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2015
Juneau – The 13 members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition support the Medicaid expansion legislation unveiled Tuesday by Governor Bill Walker.
“Medicaid expansion is a no brainer,” said Coalition Leader Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage). “We fought in the House Finance Committee and on the Floor of the House to keep expansion in the budget. The House Majority put politics before people and turned down those efforts by calling for a bill from the Governor. They now have a bill. There should be no more delay. It’s time to get to work and get this done before the end of session.”
Medicaid expansion will allow nearly 42,000 Alaskans to have access to healthcare and create an estimated 4,000 jobs. Expansion is expected to generate $1.2 billion in wages and salaries and stimulate billions in increased economic activity across the entire state.
“The stars are aligned right now to take advantage of full federal funding to allow some of the neediest Alaskans to receive health care through the expansion of Medicaid,” said Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage), who led the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition’s efforts to reinsert Medicaid expansion in the FY 2016 budget. “I am very much looking forward to the time when I can tell my constituents that their health trumps politics. If this effort is not successful, it will be a wasted opportunity.”
Governor Walker’s legislation seeks to increase Medicaid eligibility up to 138% of the federal poverty level. Until 2017, the federal government will pay 100% of the cost. After 2017, the federal match will be 90%. Governor Walker confirms he has received a commitment from the federal government that Alaska can withdraw its expansion if the federal match falls below 90%,
“Last fall’s election results show a broad support for Medicaid expansion, including my constituents in West Anchorage,” said Rep. Matt Claman (D-Anchorage). “There has been a lot of talk about Medicaid reform, and market forces are already driving those changes. This bill is a good start to make sure our State laws and regulations continue to support reforms to our Medicaid program.”
Governor Walker’s Medicaid expansion legislation seeks to address the concerns of critics by also focusing on reform of the Medicaid system. The bill gives the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services the authority to expand the use of telemedicine and incentivize innovation in the delivery of healthcare. The Department will also be able to expand the use of waivers.
“This Legislature has the opportunity to help grow 4,000 jobs in a struggling economy and cut the budget gap because of the tens of millions of dollars in savings this bill will generate,” said Rep. Les Gara. “That’s a good deal for the people.”
Governor Walker’s Medicaid expansion and reform legislation will be formally introduced and receive committee assignments on Wednesday.