July 9, 2015
Serving Midtown, Spenard, and UMed
716 W. 4th Ave Suite 411.
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Governor Bill Walker
Lt. Governor Byron Mallott
Skyrocketing Health Care Costs in Alaska
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As you may know, I am an ardent advocate of Medicaid Expansion in Alaska. I believe there are numerous benefits to our acceptance of the federal funding: it would create jobs, bring much-needed stimulus money into the state, and most importantly, provide affordable health insurance to an estimated 40,000 Alaskans.
I have heard that, in other states, expansion has lowered overall costs to those that are privately insured, as the cost of expensive ER visits for the uninsured are no longer passed down to the pool of consumers. This could be especially cost effective in Alaska, where spending as a whole on physician and hospital care is 73% of overall health care costs. In contrast, the US as a whole spends 66% on the same types of physician and hospital care.
Health care costs in Alaska are simply too high, burdening working families, business owners, seniors, and those in our most vulnerable populations. As we wait for bipartisan support for Medicaid expansion, health care costs continue to rise at an astronomical pace.
In thinking about this problem, I have read studies and listened to discussions by fiscal policy experts, health care providers, consumer advocates, and various other groups. The nonpartisan research organization, Alaska Common Ground, recently hosted a forum regarding health care costs in our state. In this forum, Mouhcine Guettabi of ISER and Assistant Professor of Economics at UAA, stated that Alaska is the second highest in the nation for per capita health care costs. And, while health care spending has generally slowed down in the rest of the country, our state’s costs continue to rise 9.2% per year. This trend is simply unsustainable and will continue to negatively impact Alaskans until we find a workable solution.
I am looking for legislative and administrative ways in which we may help lower costs of health care. While the market is largely driven by private corporations, there are potential cost-saving measures that we can explore, which may alleviate the weight that we all feel as health care consumers.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office.