U.S. Senator Mark Begich Wednesday joined a group of senators urging 18 state governors to put aside their political differences and expand Medicaid in their states in order to bring access to life-saving health care and preventive health services to millions of Americans.
“In Alaska, Governor Parnell’s refusal to expand Medicaid means denying health insurance to thousands of hardworking Alaskan families,” said Begich. “Aside from the obvious health benefits to Alaskans, the state Chamber of Commerce urged the governor to expand the program because it is also the right thing to do for Alaska businesses and the economy. Without the expansion, people who cannot afford insurance will continue to get their health care needs met in hospital emergency rooms across the state—the most expensive way to get health care. Those costs will continue to be passed on and Alaskans’ hard-earned tax dollars will continue to be shipped to the Lower 48 instead of staying right here in Alaska.”
Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government provides funding to states that wish to expand their Medicaid programs. This funding is then used to pay local hospitals, doctors and other health care providers to administer care. By refusing this federal funding and choosing not to cover millions of eligible individuals, these 18 states stand to lose billions in new revenue with the increased use of health care systems.
The Alaska Chamber of Commerce, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, the Alaska Hospital and Nursing Home Association, the American Association of Retired People, the Alaska Federation of Natives, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, and other Alaska business and civic groups have all urged Parnell to expand Medicaid.
The letter was signed by U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
The letter was sent to Governors Robert Bentley (R-Ala.), Sean Parnell (R-Alaska), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Nathan Deal (R-Ga.), Butch Otter (R-Idaho), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Bobby Jindal (R-La.), Paul LePage (R-Maine), Phil Bryant (R-Mississippi), Dave Heineman (R-Neb.), Pat McCroy (R-N.C.), Mary Fallin (R-Okla.), Nikki Haley (R-S.C.), Dennis Daugaard (R-S.D.), Bill Haslam (R-Tenn.), Rick Perry (R-Texas), Scott Walker (R-Wis.), and Matt Mead (R-Wyo.).