Alaska Governor Bill Walker Speaks on Medicaid

Alaska Governor Bill Walker released a public email today detailing his efforts surrounding medicaid expansion in Alaska and reconvening the legislature:

Dear Alaskan,

I’m writing you tonight to let you know I have issued a proclamation to convene the Alaska State House of Representatives and Senate in a special session tomorrow.

Like many Alaskans, I was disappointed that the Legislature adjourned today with a spending plan that runs out of money partway through the year and fails to provide adequate funding for education and health care coverage for 42,000 Alaskans.

I will introduce three bills:

  • A fully funded State budget
  • Erin’s Law
  • Medicaid reform and expansion

My administration is focused on healthy Alaskans and a healthy economy. A partially funded budget that runs out of money mid-year does not provide for the health of Alaskans, and creates uncertainty for businesses, school districts, and families.

My budget proposal addresses the State’s $3 billion deficit by reducing State spending – $250 million in operating reductions and $440 million in capital spending. My Take 2 Budget accepts nearly all of the legislative actions throughout the session, but addresses areas where the cuts were too damaging. The Take 2 Budget proposal reduces State spending –$388 million in operating reductions and $486 million in capital spending. This budget adds $55 million in operating spending and a total of $94 million in added State funding, a 1.4 percent increase from the unfunded budget. The Take 2 Budget also does the following:

  • restores funding for the education K-12 formula – and to the level I originally proposed – and also restores funding for pre-K and the Alaska Learning Network;
  • partially restores crippling cuts to the Alaska Marine Highway System, Health and Social Services, and the University;
  • honors union contracts;
  • includes Medicaid expansion and the associated State savings, $6.6 million of State general fund savings in fiscal year 2016;
  • includes funding for North Slope gas commercialization;
  • partially restores Trooper aircraft reductions;
  • restores the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault program funding

I’m giving legislators two more opportunities to expand Medicaid – by accepting the projected $146 million in new federal Medicaid revenue, and by including House Bill 148 to reform and expand Medicaid as part of the special session call.

Alaskans have spoken, loudly and clearly for Medicaid reform and expansion. It will bring $1 billion into the state economy over the next six years, and provide health care to 40,000 Alaskans. Now is not the time to say no to new revenue. In fact, by rejecting Medicaid expansion, the State spends extra money to deny people health care. It just doesn’t make sense.

Erin’s Law is a national initiative to provide sexual abuse prevention education to K-12 youth. There are four different versions of the bill currently stalled in the Legislature. Alaskans overwhelmingly support Erin’s Law, and I want to make sure it is given adequate consideration. We can certainly add an opt-out provision for local school boards, so it is not an unfunded mandate.

I ask for your support as we head into the special session. Please urge your local legislators to do what’s right and pass a fully funded State budget.


With appreciation,

Governor Bill Walker

Comments can be directed to Alaska Governor Bill Walker here.