Governor Sean Parnell will discuss Medicaid expansion at a press conference in Anchorage today. Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Bill Streur will join Parnell at the conference.
Parnell is expected to announce by Dec. 15 whether the State of Alaska will accept federal money offered for the expansion through the Affordable Care Act. He’s said before that he has “serious concerns” about expanding Medicaid because of the cost to the state. He said in a statement earlier this year that Alaska’s Medicaid costs are already growing by $100 million a year.
The prospect of expanding Medicaid in Alaska has spurred much debate among lawmakers and advocacy groups. According to third party reports, the expansion would bring an estimated $1.1 billion in federal funding and would extend health care coverage to an estimated 40,000 Alaskans. The federal government would cover 100 percent of the cost to expand Medicaid for the first three years. Federal support would go down to 95 percent in 2017 and would be at 90 percent by 2020.
The Alaska and Anchorage chambers of commerce and the Anchorage NAACP have all recently expressed support for the expansion.
A report commissioned by the state to look at Medicaid expansion has not been made public despite numerous Freedom of Information Act requests from Alaskan media outlets.
The expansion would allow anyone whose income is up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify for Medicaid. A single person in Alaska making $18,580 or less would qualify, or $38,330 for a family of four.