Alaska Commission on Aging comments on Graham-Cassidy

The Alaska Commission on Aging is a group of governor-appointed leaders that offer proposals, comments, counsel and advice to state government on issues related to Alaska’s elderly population, their care, and their concerns.

They also recently offered their concerns about the federal health reform and the latest version in play in the Senate, the Graham-Cassidy bill.

You can see their letters here: Sullivan, Murkowski, Young.

From their letter:

We write to express our concerns with the proposed Graham-Cassidy legislation and its possible impacts to Alaska’s Medicaid program for the 189,996 Alaskans who currently receive Medicaid services, including more than 25,000 senior enrollees age 55 years and older (based on estimates provided by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, September 2017). The Commission has submitted previous letters of concern to you regarding health care reform proposed by the Better Care Reconciliation Act and the American Health Care Act. The Graham-Cassidy proposal includes many of the same provisions of the former bills of which we have continuing concerns in addition to a significant reduction of federal funding for Alaska that is expected to diminish health care and long-term care support services for seniors and other vulnerable Alaskans.

The letters are each very similar to one another with only minor differences.

Other parts of the letter worth noting relate to the size of the aging population in Alaska.

We have also surpassed other states with having the highest projected number of persons over the age of 85 (135% by 2030 according to an analysis conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation 2017) as well as holding the highest projected increase in percentage change of 54.9% for the number of seniors, age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease, comparing 2017 and 2025 (Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, 2017). Alaska seniors number 126,000 people age 60 and older who represent 17% of the state’s total population (Alaska Department of Labor Research and Analysis). As people age, their resources and health decline increasing their need for quality and affordable health care and long-term care services.

Decisions affecting health care reform are critically important for older Alaskans. In fact, access to health care was identified as the #1 concern by Alaskans age 55 years and older who participated in the Alaska Senior Survey conducted in 2015 of which almost 2,300 seniors responded. Nearly 94% of the senior survey respondents identified access to health care as “very important” because seniors know that access to quality and affordable health care is critical for successful aging. Being able to afford both premiums and out-of-pocket costs are essential to senior health and well-being.