Expanded Alaska Medicaid coverage begins Sept. 1
If the courts allow it
Editor’s note: Staying on top of breaking news can be challenging in a monthly newspaper. Here’s the most recent information available when this edition went to press.
The Alaska Legislature announced Aug. 18 it will sue the governor to block Medicaid expansion, calling the decision the Legislature’s to make. Legislators also said they want more time to study the issue.
Governor Walker has said he plans to expand Medicaid in September for two main reasons: 1) to meet the health care needs of Alaskans without coverage, and 2) to bring millions in federal funding into the state as soon as possible during the current budget crisis.
Consultants employed by the state Dept. of Health and Social Services have said expansion will save the state money on current programs as well as bring new federal health care funding into Alaska. Under Healthy Alaska, the Governor’s Medicaid expansion and reform plan, Alaskans who need health insurance but don’t make enough to qualify for subsidized coverage through the federal marketplace could apply to get coverage starting Sept. 1.
Who is this population, generally speaking? Alaskans age 18 to 64 who aren’t otherwise covered and who meet income limits. Examples might be young adults coming out of college, middle-age adults who don’t have coverage through their jobs (maybe they work seasonal jobs or are small-business people) and retirees not yet covered by Medicare.
Medicaid expansion would provide preventive and primary care to help keep people healthy and fix small health problems while they’re still small, as well as be a safety net in case of a serious accident or illness.
Income eligibility guidelines: Adults without dependent children who earn less than $20,328 a year ($1,694 per month) for single adults, or $27,492 a year ($2,291 per month) for married couples.
When to apply: Applications for coverage will be accepted starting Sept. 1. Don’t apply before them, or the application will be denied.
For more information, visit:
• the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services site, http://dhss.alaska.gov/HealthyAlaska
• Governor Walker’s page, http://gov.alaska.gov/Walker/priorities/accessible-healthcare.html.
To apply for coverage: Starting Sept. 1 – if the Legislature’s lawsuit is not upheld – visit http://www.healthcare.gov/apply-and-enroll/how-to-apply/.