SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Avoid a lawsuit: Walker Urged To Rescind Medicaid Expansion Order


August 16, 2015
Sunday PM

(SitNews) - In a memo to Governor Walker and key legislative committees last week, Senator Mike Dunleavy (R- Valleys) urged Governor Bill Walker (I) to rescind his order to expand Medicaid and allow time for the Alaska Legislature to vet the issue, or risk a lawsuit over the Legislature’s constitutional authority to appropriate funds.

“The announcement on July 16 by Governor Walker that he would unilaterally expand Medicaid by superseding the normal public process of legislative hearings means the voice of my constituents via me as their elected senator is being quashed,” Senator Dunleavy wrote. “Under this process, his proposal need not ever be approved or disapproved by the legislature.”

Senator Dunleavy said a major policy decision, which will impact the economy and healthcare in Alaska, should only be made after the Legislature receives detailed information from independent experts, including a 10-year projection showing the overall costs of Medicaid expansion to the state.

To avoid a lawsuit, Senator Dunleavy asked the governor to delay the implementation of expansion until the Legislature has the opportunity to review the legislation during a special session in the fall or regular session in 2016. Senator Dunleavy also urged the leadership of both the House and Senate to take up the issue as the first order of business if the governor agrees to delay implementation.

If Governor Walker chooses to move forward with his unilateral action, however, Senator Dunleavy urges Legislative Council to commence with a lawsuit asserting the Legislature’s authority to appropriate funds.

The legal case outlined in the memo points to multiple issues, including A.S. 47.07.020 (d), which states, “Additional groups may not be added unless approved by the legislature.” Under the expanded program, Medicaid would cover new groups beyond its current coverage of low-income families with children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

Senator Dunleavy also cites both the precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court Case, NFIB v. Sebelius, which barred the federal government from coercing states into expanding Medicaid and left the option open to the states, as well as two Alaska Supreme Court cases, FNSB v. State and State v. FNSB, affirming the Legislature’s authority over appropriation.

“The legislature and only the legislature maintains the power of appropriation,” Senator Dunleavy wrote. “If the governor will not agree to any of these actions by August 21, I urge Legislative Council to commence with a lawsuit regarding the legislature’s appropriations authority.”


Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews

Related News:

Governor Announces Alaska to Become the 30th State to Expand Medicai By MARY KAUFFMAN - Alaska Governor Bill Walker (I) sent a letter to the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee last Thursday, giving members the required 45-day notice of his intention to accept additional federal and Mental Health Trust Fund Authority money to expand Medicaid in Alaska. - More...
Sunday PM - August 16, 2015



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Alaska Senate Majority (Republicans)


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