FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2015
Democrats Disappointed GOP Leadership Bypassing Budget Savings
Washington D.C. Advocacy Law Firm Gets $100,000 for Signing Contract to Continue Ill-Advised Medicaid Expansion Lawsuit
ANCHORAGE – Tuesday, the Chairman of the Alaska Legislative Council officially signed binding legal agreements with two law firms to continue a lawsuit against Alaska Governor Bill Walker over his decision to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid eligibility in Alaska. By signing the larger of the two contracts, the Alaska Legislature must immediately pay $100,000 to a Washington D.C. advocacy law firm.
The Legislative Council, with the backing of the leadership of the Republican-controlled majorities in the House and Senate, sought to stop the implementation of Medicaid expansion on September 1, 2015 but the request was denied by an Alaska Superior Court judge. Additionally, the Alaska Supreme Court refused to hear the matter.
“As a coalition we are disappointed the Republican leadership in the House and Senate has chosen to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a court battle in an effort to stop hard-working Alaskans from getting healthcare,” said Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Leader Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage). “I hope they are aware that we are facing a budget crisis. If they are, I can’t understand why they would spend this kind of money on high-priced Washington D.C. lawyers to litigate a case they are destined to lose.”
Earlier this month, a letter was sent to the Chairman of the Alaska Legislative Council, the Senate President, and the Speaker of the House asking that the expensive Medicaid expansion lawsuit be dropped. The letter was signed by the 13 members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition and the five members of the Alaska Senate Democrats.
“I’m struggling to understand how Republican leadership has drifted so far from common sense, losing any sense of priority when it comes to serving the people of Alaska.” said Senate Minority Leader Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage). “As the state slides toward a fiscal cliff their response is to waste $450,000 in what they know to be a flawed attempt to deny health care coverage to thousands of Alaskans. They are pointlessly burning money while the state coffers dry up.”
One of the professional services contracts signed Tuesday will cost the state of Alaska $400,000 including $100,000 at the time the contract is signed. The second contract will cost the state of Alaska another $50,000.
The expanded Medicaid eligibility requirements took effect on September 1 and it’s estimated that 40,000 Alaskans will be eligible for healthcare coverage, many for the very first time. All of this comes with no out of pocket costs to the state of Alaska in the current fiscal year.