Alaska’s Young votes for health care law overhaul

  • Thursday, May 4, 2017 9:26pm
  • News

JUNEAU (AP) — Alaska U.S. Rep. Don Young was among a majority of House members who voted Thursday to change the Obama-era health care law, saying inaction on fixing what he sees as a broken system was not an option.

The move toward dismantling the law came as the governor of Alaska, Bill Walker, said the state stood to be the most negatively impacted by the bill.

“Today is not great,” Alaska insurance director Lori Wing-Heier said.

Young had been undecided on the bill as of Wednesday, his spokesman, Matt Shuckerow, said.

But Young said Thursday he received commitments from the Trump administration and House leadership that Alaska would benefit from provisions in the bill, including funding to address the high costs of care in rural, sparsely populated states.

Young also said he was assured that additional Alaska-specific health care concerns would be addressed in future legislation.

“Given the choice of doing nothing or moving forward on efforts to roll back the many destructive policies of Obamacare, I chose the latter,” Young said in a statement.

Shuckerow said he wasn’t privy to the details of those conversations and didn’t know when they took place.

Young in a statement called Thursday’s vote the first of many steps in a long process to repeal the existing health care law, passed under former President Barack Obama.

The bill, which now goes to the Senate, would, among other things, replace income-based subsidies for people buying individual policies with tax credits that would grow with age. It also would end tax penalties on those who don’t buy health insurance.

The proposed credits are paltry, particularly for lower-income Alaskans, given the state’s pricey premiums, Wing-Heier said.

Alaska is down to one insurer offering individual health policies.

One of the more popular health plans, often used as a benchmark for comparing costs between states, on average costs a 40-year-old nonsmoker $927 per month in Alaska before any subsidies, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Walker, a Republican-turned-independent, said in a statement that Alaska would be hit hardest by the bill.

Wing-Heier said attention will now shift to working with Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan to restore funding, keep the individual health market stable and continue the expanded Medicaid program.

Murkowski, who has a reputation as a moderate, told reporters she expected the Senate to undertake its own process in crafting a bill and could not say how much of the House bill might be retained.

It’s important to address issues of access and rising health care costs, she said. In the near term, it’s also important to look at ways to stabilize the insurance market, she added.

Murkowski said there are elements of the existing law that should remain, such as allowing those younger than 26 to be on their parents’ insurance and barring insurers from discriminating against pre-existing conditions.

She noted that Alaska has benefited from expanded Medicaid, which extended health coverage to more lower-income people. So far, about 33,000 Alaskans have received coverage under expanded Medicaid.

“I want to make sure that we’re not pulling the rug out from under those” who have benefited from expanded Medicaid, Murkowski said.

More in News

Daily school district COVID-19 risk levels: Aug. 6, 2020

Risk levels are based on COVID cases reported in a community and determine how schools will operate.

Painted signs posted at the candlelight vigil held for Anesha “Duffy” Murnane on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, at WKFL Park in Homer, Alaska, affirm love for Murnane and beseech her safe return. (Photo by Delcenia Cosman)
Virtual birthday party to be held for missing Homer woman

Anesha “Duffy” Murnane has been missing since Oct. 17, 2019.

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Anchorage Pioneer Home reports COVID cases

State reports 4 cases on peninsula

Auctioneers Andy Kriner, left, and Rayne, Reynolds, right, celebrate a successful sale during the 4H Junior Market Livestock Auction at the Kenai Peninsula Fair on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019 at the fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
                                Auctioneers Andy Kriner, left, and Rayne, Reynolds, right, celebrate a successful sale during the 4H Junior Market Livestock Auction at the Kenai Peninsula Fair on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019 at the fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Livestock auction shifts to drive-in at rodeo grounds

4-H’ers come up with creative way to host Annual Junior Market Livestock Auction

Alaska State Troopers badge
4 bears killed after Hope mauling

The incident occurred July 29.

Daily school district COVID-19 risk levels: Aug. 5, 2020

Risk levels are based on COVID cases reported in a community and determine how schools will operate.

Friends remember pilot killed in crash

‘God didn’t make guys like Greg very often’

Image via Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
School board seeks to use last year’s enrollment numbers

The loss of in-person enrollment will cause a significant loss of revenue for the school district.

The Wilderness Adventurer is shown Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, following its return to Juneau, Alaska, after one of its 36 passengers tested positive for COVID-19. The first cruise of the stunted season was cut short, and all passengers were required to quarantine at a hotel while the 30 crew members were to quarantine on the ship. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
COVID result cuts short 1st Alaska cruise of stunted season

The cancelled trip by UnCruise Adventures was the first of the season.

Most Read