Gov. Walker: Alaska is now 30th state to accept Medicaid expansion

Update | 11:22 a.m.

Walker says he expects 20,000 working Alaskans to sign up under the expanded healthcare. He says he expects the expansion to be finalized by Sept. 1 or sooner.

He lamented that it didn’t happen in 2014, an allusion to former Gov. Sean Parnell’s tenure and the Alaska Legislature’s refusal to advance Medicaid expansion efforts this year.

“This is the final this option for me. I’ve tried everything else. And one thing people have to learn about me, I never give up and I won’t give up, and it’s good for Alaskans,” Walker said.

Update | 10:19 a.m.

Gov. Bill Walker says Alaska will be the 30th state to accept Medicaid expansion.

Original story | 2:15 a.m.

Gov. Bill Walker is holding a press conference on Medicaid expansion today at 10 a.m.

Medicaid is the federal program that helps pay for health care for the poor, administered by the states.

Through the Affordable Care Act, Alaska has been eligible since 2014 to expand the pool of Medicaid recipients and accept an additional $146 million in federal funds. The expansion would let adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level to receive Medicaid. The feds would cover the whole tab through 2016, and taper its support down to 90 percent by 2020.

Former Gov. Sean Parnell opposed expanding Medicaid in Alaska, citing the cost to federal taxpayers and passing debt on to future generations. Walker came out in support of Medicaid expansion during his campaign to unseat Parnell last year.

This year, Republican lawmakers stymied several attempts by the independent Walker and Democratic lawmakers to expand Medicaid.

Lawyers for the legislature and the administration have written opinions that it is likely within the governor’s authority to expand Medicaid without legislative action. Polls have also shown that a strong majority of Alaskans support expansion.

Jeremy Hsieh

Local News Reporter, KTOO

I dig into questions about the forces and institutions that shape Juneau, big and small, delightful and outrageous. What stirs you up about how Juneau is built and how the city works?

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