For Immediate Release: June 9th, 2014
New Report Reveals Nearly Half of Low-Income Alaskans Age 18-64 Lack Health Insurance
Senators: Medicaid expansion would substantially improve health in every Alaskan voter district
ANCHORAGE – On the heels of the Parnell Administration’s announcement that it was having a “really tough” time determining how many Alaskans are uninsured, Senators Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage) and Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) requested a research report from the non-partisan Legislative Research Services to determine not only how many Alaskans are uninsured, but also where they live.
“We thought it would be useful for the Governor and legislators to know how their decision not to expand Medicaid is impacting their constituents. We know that providing secure health care coverage improves health outcomes and saves lives,” said Senator Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage). “Now we know just how many people would benefit in each election district.”
The report shows that approximately 19.5 percent of all Alaskans lacked health insurance between 2008 and 2012. Among low income households this figure is substantially higher. Over the same time period, about 33 percent of low income households with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty threshold were uninsured statewide. Of that group, an astounding 47 percent of low income Alaskans ages 18-64 did not have any health plan. These are Alaskans who are eligible for neither Denali KidCare or Medicare.
Of note, two Anchorage Senate Districts had the highest and lowest percentage of uninsured Alaskans. The district with the highest percentage of uninsured Alaskans, at 42 percent, is Senate District N, which covers the Hillside, Girdwood and parts of the Kenai Peninsula. Senate District I, which includes Downtown Anchorage and Mountain View has the lowest percentage of uninsured at 25 percent.
Studies, including one commissioned by the state, show that expansion would provide substantial economic benefits to the state, while providing Medicaid to an estimated 43,000 uninsured Alaskans. Specifically, these reports say that Alaska would receive $1.1 billion in federal revenue resulting in $2.5 billion in additional economic activity, while creating an estimated 4,000 jobs and eliminating the need for up to $40 million for costly state-funded assistance programs benefiting low income Alaskans.
“Congress has promised to pay 100 percent of the cost of expansion for the first three years, and 90 percent thereafter,” said Senator Bill Wielechowski. “The Governor could have put a plan in place to back out of expansion if the government failed to meet that promise, but he wasn’t interested. Fortunately, he can still change his mind. We are hopeful he will do the right thing based on this new research.”
To see the number of Alaskans in each House district who would benefit from expanded coverage, click here.
To view the number of Alaskans in each Senate district who would benefit from expanded coverage, click here.
To view the full Legislative Research Services Report, click here.
For more information contact Michelle Sydeman at (907) 321-1944 or Amory Lelake at (907) 269-0169.