Thursday, July 16, 2015

Alaska is now the 30th state to accept Medicaid expansion

An email this afternoon from my Alaska State Rep, Andy Josephson says:

"Today, Alaska Governor Bill Walker announced plans to take advantage of federal funding to expand eligibility for Medicaid in Alaska. This action is supported by the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition, which made Medicaid expansion a priority during the First Session of the 29th Alaska Legislature. Medicaid expansion comes with tremendous benefits including over a billion dollars in new federal revenue over the next six year, the creation of 4,000 jobs, and $1.2 billion in additional wages and salaries. Studies suggest Medicaid expansion would result in $2.49 billion in increased economic activity across Alaska.
There are multiple legal opinions showing that the Governor has the authority to expand Medicaid. Medicaid expansion is supported by the public and, I believe, a majority of lawmakers but that did not sway the Majority leadership, which refused to allow an up or down vote on the matter. I believe the Governor’s decision is justified based on the merits of the argument and the inaction of the Alaska Legislature. . . ."

The Republican leadership in the House and Senate in Juneau refused to pass this and fortunately Walker has found a way to do this administratively.  They have been and still are wrong on so many issues:  climate change, medicaid expansion, oil taxes, big construction projects, passing budgets that ignored warnings about declining oil revenues year after year, etc, etc. etc.  Influence from major donors/lobbyists (oil and construction particularly) or national far right wing pressure like the Koch's ALEC keep them from getting it right, from making decisions that benefit Alaska in the long term.   One can make micro-level arguments for many of the things they did or didn't do, but the long term evolution of things has proved their blindness to the larger issues.  

I make that fairly sweeping statement in light of this example of the Alaska Republicans who spearheaded the move for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman and who fought the addition of lgbt folks to Anchorage's anti-discrimination ordinance:
"On Thursday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission unanimously ruled that sexual orientation discrimination is already illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner reports, the EEOC's groundbreaking decision effectively declares that employment discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers is unlawful in all 50 states."  [From Slate]
I guess the Anchorage ordinance has been effectively amended, at least in employment.  

And in light of Obama's visit to the Federal Correctional Institution El Reno near Oklahoma City to highlight the horrendous outcomes of the simplistic War on Drugs and Three Strikes You're Out programs which gave non-violent drug offenders long prison sentences.  This resulted in (Obama's stats) the US, with 5% of the world's population having 25% of the world's prisoners.  In ripping apart families, huge costs of prisons, and so many lives wasted behind bars.  And the Right's solution of privatizing governmental functions including prisons, meant there was now a new industry with a vested interest in expanding the prison population.  This is also in light of the legalization of marijuana in a number of states - both medical marijuana in many states and recreational marijuana in a few. 

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