Alaska DHSS releases preliminary analysis into Graham-Cassidy's impact on Alaska

Published: Sep. 22, 2017 at 1:23 PM AKDT
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The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has released its preliminary analysis into the Graham-Cassidy Bill’s impact on Alaska, finding by 2026, Alaska will see a 65 percent reduction in federal funding relative to current law.

That amounts to $1.1 billion less in federal funding, from 2020 through 2026.

"Graham-Cassidy requires sweeping changes that go beyond earlier 'repeal and replace' bills, and pose unique challenges for Alaska," said the analysis prepared by Manatt Health.

The Alaska DHSS says the major feature of the bill is a block grant system that replaces Marketplace subsidies and Medicaid expansion.

"As a high-cost state, Alaska is at particular risk, because the block grant aims to provide the same level of federal funding per low-income person across all states," said the Alaska DHSS.

The Alaska DHSS refers to the possibility of an arrangement specially made for Alaska, saying while Alaska may be able to secure an adjustment based on high healthcare costs, "This will be in part at the discretion of HHS and must be offset by cuts to other states."

In a statement released to KTUU, Governor Bill Walker’s office said this announcement did not change his perspective on the Graham-Cassidy Bill.

"The Manatt study, prepared for DHSS, confirms the administration’s initial review of the bill: it hurts Alaskans," said Governor Walker’s office.

Prior to the release of this study, Governor Bill Walker had

about the bill and its effects on Alaska.

"I can't support a bill that I'm not convinced doesn't hurt Alaskans," Walker said. "And if it hurts Alaskans, I can't support it."

On Sept. 19, Walker joined nine other governors around the country in calling for a bi-partisan approach to healthcare reform.

According to the Alaska DHSS, the Graham-Cassidy Bill would terminate the Medicaid Expansion beginning in 2020, with certain Native American populations receiving exemptions.

States could choose to cover the population, but they would need to use block grant dollars provided by the Federal government.

Earlier this week, Walker publicly celebrated the two year anniversary of his decision to expand Medicaid.

The Alaska DHSS analysis says the Graham-Cassidy bill will also eliminate the individual and employer mandate tax penalties, leading to premiums to rise and reduced enrollment.

"[The] uncertainty of continued federal services may impose significant administrative burdens on Alaska to stand up its own infrastructure," said the Alaska DHSS.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence called into

on KFQD, in order to advocate for the bill, saying it lets leaders in Juneau make decisions about healthcare, rather than those in Washington D.C.

"If people believe leaders in Juneau know better what's for Alaska than Washington D.C. ever will, if people want to get rid of the mandate that requires them to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, I just encourage them to call both of your senators," said Pence.

When asked about Senator Dan Sullivan’s voting intentions on the Graham-Cassidy Bill, a spokesperson from his office said, "He is still reviewing it."

to have a full look at the full report.

KTUU reached out to Senator Lisa Murkowski for comment about her voting intentions for the Graham-Cassidy Bill, but she has not immediately responded.