Carole Shay, right, and Gwen Helms participate in a protest outside U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office Monday, July 9, 2018, in Anchorage, Alaska. Protesters rallied to urge Murkowski to vote against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. (AP Photo/Rachel D’Oro)

Carole Shay, right, and Gwen Helms participate in a protest outside U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office Monday, July 9, 2018, in Anchorage, Alaska. Protesters rallied to urge Murkowski to vote against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. (AP Photo/Rachel D’Oro)

Health care campaign wants Alaskans to reach out to Sen. Murkowski about Supreme Court vote

Protect Our Care looking for Southeast voices to influence senator’s Supreme Court vote

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is in the spotlight in the ongoing national health care debate, and one nationwide organization is putting a concerted effort into motivating Alaskans to share their personal stories with Murkowski about how health care affects their lives.

Protect Our Care, a national campaign that works to preserve and improve the Affordable Care Act, is particularly intent on opposing President Donald Trump’s selection of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Those at the campaign believe Kavanaugh will use his position to repeal ACA and possibly Roe v. Wade.

A date has not yet been set in stone for a vote confirming Kavanaugh’s appointment to the court, but many believe Murkowski, as well as Maine Sen. Susan Collins, could be a vital swing vote. Among those is Andy Slavitt, the former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Every vote is vital, Slavitt said. Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate, but Arizona Sen. John McCain is at home fighting cancer.

“You can expect that this is a very, very close vote decided by one vote, potentially, given that there are 50 Republicans if you don’t count John McCain that will vote on this,” Slavitt said in a phone interview. “If one of them chooses not to vote to support Judge Kavanaugh, I think that could be very important.”

Proponents of Kavanaugh have said he’s a highly qualified candidate, having spent 12 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and spending time as a staff secretary for President George W. Bush. Justin Walker, an assistant professor of law at the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law, clerked for Kavanaugh from 2010-2011 and said Kavanaugh’s previous decisions and writings suggest Kavanaugh will not be a rubber-stamp justice for the president.

“They demonstrate that he faithfully applies the text of the statues and the Constitution and he goes wherever the law leads,” Wilson said in a phone interview.

Wilson was recently in Alaska to speak about Kavanaugh and said he heard a good deal of positive feedback on Kavanaugh from the Alaskans with whom he spoke. Specifically in regard to the ACA, Wilson said Kavanaugh “will go without any passion or prejudice” for either party or either side of the debate.

In a statement immediately after Trump selected Kavanaugh, Murkowski has said she’s looking to sit down with Kavanaugh and give careful consideration to her vote.

Protect Our Care Alaska has mostly focused its efforts in Anchorage thus far, but is expanding its campaign to Southeast. Amber Lee, the state coordinator for the campaign, said it’s important for Murkowski to hear from Southeast residents.

“It’s a very strategic place for us because Murkowski’s originally from Ketchikan,” Lee said, “and there are a lot of strong voices there.”

Murkowski, a republican, has proven to be a key figure in recent health care votes and debates. She’s been a vocal supporter of women’s reproductive rights and case a key “no” vote during a July 2017 vote to repeal and replace the ACA.

Lee is hoping Alaskans reach out to Murkowski with personal stories about how ACA and the Medicaid expansion in Alaska in 2015 have positively affected their lives. The hope is that these personal stories will show Murkowski just how much her constituents will lose if ACA is repealed.

There are numerous ways to get in touch with Murkowski’s office, Lee said. People can write to Murkowski, call her Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-6665, visit her office in Anchorage or even tweet at @lisamurkowski. Lee encouraged people to use the hashtags #StandUpLisa and #StopKavanaugh.

Protect Our Care is airing television and radio advertisements with a personal twist as well, presenting the image of a woman who is fighting cancer and “shouldn’t have to fight to keep her health care.”

The ACA includes provisions that provide financial security for people with so-called pre-existing conditions such as cancer, diabetes and asthma. According to numbers from the Center for American Progress in 2017, about half of non-elderly Alaskans (upwards of 326,000) have a pre-existing condition.

Gov. Bill Walker accepted federal funds to expand Medicaid in 2015, and Slavitt said that expansion has helped people in rural Alaska get access to medical care. Lee said the issue of health care affects everybody sooner or later, and Slavitt said Kavanaugh’s selection to the Supreme Court could have long-term ramifications for those in need of health care.

“If people do care about these issues,” Slavitt said, “this is a seminal, I think, event in the life of their access to health care.”


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


More in Home

The northern fur seal rescued by Alaska SeaLife Center staff is seen on Jan. 31, 2023, at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Kaiti Grant/Alaska SeaLife Center)
Northern fur seal pup admitted to SeaLife Center rescue program

The pup was reported by Sitka residents using the center’s 24-hour stranding hotline

Soldotna City Council members interview city manager applicant Elke Doom (on screen) during a special city council meeting on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Doom, Bower named finalists for Soldotna manager gig

The two will visit Soldotna for in-person meetings on Feb. 7 and 13, respectively

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire
Climate activists hold a rally outside the Alaska State Capitol Friday afternoon in advocacy for legislative action to improve Alaska’s renewable energy development and future sustainability.
Climate activists hold rally near the Capitol

Statewide organizations advocate for legislative action

The Homer Spit stretching into Kachemak Bay is seen here on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020 in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Homer woman indicted over seaplane incident

Marian Tillion Beck was indicted on charges of negligent operation of a vessel and attempted interference with the navigation of a sea plane

Soldotna High School can be seen in this Sept. 2, 2021, photo, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion file)
‘Little Sweethearts’ family dance to debut at SoHi

The event will be hosted by SoHi’s freshmen student council

The Kenai Community Library children’s section is seen on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Literary competition returns to local schools

Battle of the Books aims to instill in kids a love of reading

Shanon Davis, the executive director of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, hands out candy during the Sweeny’s St. Patrick’s Parade in Soldotna on March 17, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Davis to step down as Soldotna chamber head

Davis oversaw the implementation of Soldotna’s “Holding Our Own,” shop local program

Kenai resident Barbara Kennedy testifies in support of allowing more city residents to own chickens during a city council meeting on Wednesday, Feb.1, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai council bumps back vote on chicken ordinance

The ordinance would allow Kenai residents to keep up to 12 chicken hens on certain lots

A recently added port-a-potty is available in the parking lot of Slikok Multi-Use Trails on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Slikok makes sanitation upgrades

A port-a-potty was installed to due to the increased popularity of the trails

Most Read