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Medicaid Expansion Proposal Could be Uphill Battle

By Adam Pinsker, Multimedia Political Reporter, apinsker@ktuu.com
Published On: Jan 31 2014 06:50:31 PM AKST

Medicaid Expansion Proposal Could be Uphill Battle

JUNEAU -

On Thursday, Senate and House Democrats introduced legislation aimed at expanding Medicaid to as many as 41,000 Alaskans.

The move comes six weeks after Governor Sean Parnell declined federal dollars to expand the program. Parnell said he feared federal funds for the expansion wouldn’t be available in the future. On Thursday, Parnell said he likely won’t sign the bill in its current form.

"I can't see a scenario where I would, at this point,” Parnell said.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage), said the bill will help cover those who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but are living below the poverty line, currently about $19,000 a year for an individual and $40,000 for a head of household.

"The value, even if it's only for a short period, can be immense to individuals and families,” said Sen. Berta Gardner, (D-Anchorage)

Proponents of the bill say expanding Medicaid would actually create 4,000 new jobs in Alaska, along with an additional $1.2 billion dollars in salaries and wages.

A House version of the bill introduced Thursday does not have any co-sponsors from the Republican-controlled majority. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate Friday.