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

Trees with fall colors populate the Shqui Tsatnu Creek gully as seen from Fourth Avenue on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai to use $770k in grants to remove hazard trees along Shqui Tsatnu Creek

The money will be used to mitigate hazards caused by dead and dying spruce trees over more than 100 acres of city land

Alaska state Rep. David Eastman, a Wasilla Republican, is shown seated on the House floor on April 29, 2022, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)
Alaska judge keeps Oath Keepers lawmaker on November ballot

Judge Jack McKenna on Thursday ordered elections officials to delay certifying the result of that particular race

An image purportedly from the computer screen of a digital media specialist for Gov. Mike Dunleavy shows numerous files and folders of campaign advertising. A complaint filed against the governor, plus other individuals and organizations, claims administrative staff is illegally doing paid campaign work on behalf of the governor. (Screenshot from complaint filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission)
Dunleavy faces more accusations in campaign complaint

Governor calls it “specious and unfounded.”

A recent photo of Anesha "Duffy" Murnane, missing since Oct. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided, Homer Police Department)
A 2019 photo of Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, who went missing since Oct. 17, 2019, in Homer. (Photo provided, Homer Police Department)
Calderwood indicted for murder

Indictment charges man accused of killing Anesha “Duffy” Murnane with first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault.

Triumvirate Theatre is seen on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Nikiski, Alaska. The building burned in a fire on Feb. 20 of that year. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai council gives Triumvirate more time to build theater

The Kenai City Council voted last summer to conditionally donate a 2-acre parcel of city land near Daubenspeck Park and the Kenai Walmart

Leaves fall at the Kenai Senior Center on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Senior Center makes plans for $715,000 endowment

The money comes from the Tamara Diane Cone Testamentary Trust

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire
On Thursday morning at what police described as an active crime scene, JPD Officer Austin Thomas and Officer Taylor Davis walk the fielded area which was blocked off by crime scene tape. Multiple tents and a police vehicle sat in the field where the tape surrounded, another police vehicle sat in a dirt parking area.
No arrests made as Juneau death investigation continues

Shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday that a woman’s body was found

Damage from the remnants of typhoon Merbok can be seen in Golovin, Alaska, on Sept. 20, 2022. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has requested a federal disaster declaration for areas in western Alaska affected by the storm. (Photo by Jeremy Cubas/Office of the Governor)
Damage from the remnants of typhoon Merbok can be seen in Golovin, Alaska, on Sept. 20, 2022. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has requested a federal disaster declaration for areas in western Alaska affected by the storm. (Photo by Jeremy Cubas/Office of the Governor)
Repair work begins in some Alaska towns slammed by storm

About 21,000 people living along a 1,000-mile stretch of Alaska’s western coast were affected by the storm

Camille Broussard testifies in support of an advisory planning commission in Nikiski during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly approves advisory planning commission for Nikiski

The commission area as petitioned and approved covers just over 3.5 million acres

Most Read