FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 28, 2016
Senate Democratic Caucus Calls for Halt to Legislative Council’s Lawsuit
Menges Group Analysis Alleviates Fears, Touts Benefits of Medicaid Expansion
JUNEAU – In light of the findings of the recently released Menges report, the Alaska Senate Democratic Caucus has sent a letter to the Legislative Council asking them to immediately drop the lawsuit against Governor Bill Walker and the State of Alaska seeking to halt Medicaid expansion.
Last year the Legislative Council authorized a lawsuit against the State at a cost of up to $400,000. Alaskans are paying for lawyers on both sides of this lawsuit. The legislature has legal opinions from its own attorneys saying the lawsuit has no merit, and a judge refused to stay the expansion, with an opinion which appears to also indicate that the lawsuit has no merit. Now the organization chosen by the Majority, the Menges Group, found that the state should in fact accept Medicaid expansion, in a report debunking many legislators’ concerns.
During the 2015 legislative session, the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee commissioned an outside company to do an analysis of Medicaid expansion in the state. On January 16, The Menges Group issued the results of its initial “Assessment of Medicaid Expansion and Reform” to the legislature. This assessment categorically puts to rest the main concerns expressed last session by opponents of Medicaid expansion. The report found no expensive “woodwork effect,” or harmful “crowd out.” Rather it stated that Medicaid expansion is “a highly attractive policy change financially,” and went even further: “we view implementation of the Medicaid expansion to be a highly attractive policy change due to the enormous influx of federal dollars expansion is going to generate for Alaska’s economy. We also view Medicaid expansion to be an attractive policy programmatically, clinically due to the health coverage being provided to Alaskans who are not in a position to purchase health insurance and who would otherwise remain uninsured or underinsured.”
The Senate Democratic Caucus believes it is time to put this divisive lawsuit behind us in the best interest of the people.
“In the middle of a fiscal crisis it makes no sense that the Majority is suing the governor to stop a program that poll after poll shows that Alaskans want, that a judge indicates in his opinion has no merit, and that the very group hired by the Majority indicates is something we should be doing,” said Senator Bill Wielechowski.
“We need to keep our economy growing. Killing Medicaid expansion, would lose Alaska 4,000 private sector jobs, about $150 million a year in federal funds, and thousands of Alaskans would lose their health insurance,” said Senate Minority Leader, Berta Gardner. “Let’s focus our attention on working together to find solutions to the most pressing issue of the state, and that is the current fiscal crisis. Step one should be ending this frivolous and expensive lawsuit.”
For further information please contact Jeanne Devon, Press Secretary for the Alaska Senate Democratic Caucus at 907-465-5319.