What Medicaid Expansion Means for Alaska

Medicaid was originally promoted as a safety net for the most vulnerable Alaskans: low income families with children, senior citizens and Alaskans living with disabilities.

In it's current form, Medicaid expenses top $1.6 billion dollars per year.  Everyone agrees Medicaid's billing system, waste prevention and fraud control are woefully lacking.   Millions of dollars are wasted each week paying for unnecessary procedures, travel and medication.  

Studies have found that Medicaid patients can suffer from worse healthcare outcomes than the uninsured.1  Many states have moved to managed care saving millions of dollars in the process and improving patient results.  Alaska can do better.

Many Senators are open to Medicaid expansion, but only after meaningful reforms have been implemented.

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Governor Walker has filed SB 78 which calls for the expansion of Medicaid as directed by the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare).   This expansion widens the coverage for Medicaid recipients to include single, childless adults who are often able-bodied workers.   Estimates place the number of potential new enrollees in excess of 40,000.   Senators are reticient to add tens of thousands of Alaskans to a broken system.

In addition, it will cost millions to fund new enrollees.  The Federal government promises to pays 100% of these increased costs for the first two years, after which the State of Alaska must begin to pay more and more each year.

Then what?  While a number of Senators support the concept of Medicaid expansion after substantial reform, the Federal Government's track record of broken promises to Alaska leaves many concerned about run away costs.

Medicaid Facts:

  • Medicaid costs have grown faster then all other state expenses, exploding by 149% in just 10 years.
  • Because Medicaid pays more than Medicare in Alaska, senior citizens who have paid in to the system their entire lives, face being pushed to the back the line by higher paying Medicaid clients.
  • Medicaid expansion, like ObamaCare, has no funding limit.
  • Medicaid expansion is for single childless adults.
  • Medicaid costs as they stand today in Alaska become unsustainable after 2017.

 

 

1) Substandard Care Source: Primary Payer Status Effects Mortality for Major Surgical Operations, University of Virginia, 2011

Medicaid Reform