Walker names health, acting Fish and Game commissioners

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Monday, December 1, 2014 11:01pm
  • News

JUNEAU — Gov. Bill Walker on Monday announced Valerie Davidson as the new state health commissioner, calling her knowledgeable and passionate about expanding Medicaid in Alaska.

The announcement came during a news conference shortly after Walker was sworn in as governor.

Other appointments announced Monday include Sam Cotten, a former state legislator, as acting Fish and Game commissioner and Marty Rutherford as a deputy Natural Resources commissioner.

Walker campaigned on expanding Medicaid coverage, something his predecessor, Republican Sean Parnell, resisted despite broad-based support, citing cost concerns.

During his inaugural address, Walker said he would immediately “begin the wheels in motion” to accepting expanded Medicaid, drawing cheers from the audience. In states that have opted for expansion, the federal government is expected to cover the cost through 2016 and the bulk of the cost indefinitely, with the states contributing.

He told reporters that Davidson’s appointment was a big first step toward Alaska accepting expanded Medicaid coverage. He said the administration would move as aggressively as possible in expanding coverage.

Davidson has long been involved in Native health issues and most recently served as senior director of legal and intergovernmental affairs for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

She said Medicaid expansion would improve access to health care for more than 40,000 Alaskans.

Walker previously named his picks for attorney general and commissioners of Revenue, Natural Resources and Public Safety, with Public Safety Commissioner Gary Folger a holdover from Parnell’s administration.

The heads of most remaining departments are listed as acting commissioners, pending decisions on permanent appointments.

By law, the permanent Fish and Game appointment is to come from a list of individuals nominated in a joint meeting by the Board of Fisheries and Board of Game. The governor, however, has the right to request additional nominations.

New appointments are subject to legislative approval.

More in News

Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen speaks at a meeting of the Sodotna City Council on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Queen to step down as Soldotna city manager

The resignation comes as Kenai finalizes negotiations with potential city manager Terry Eubank

Houses are seen in Seward, Alaska on Thursday, April 15, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward delays action on short-term rental regs

The limits are meant to ameliorate the city’s housing shortage

Kenai Central High School Culinary Students roll out dough for Christmas cookies as part of bake sale preparation on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Guest chefs ready to help

High school culinary students will do holiday baking for you

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19: Hospitalizations fall statewide, rise locally

The state reported no new resident deaths from COVID-19 this week

Senator-elect Jesse Bjorkman, center, participates in a candidate forum Oct. 17, 2022, at the Soldotna Public Library. Bjorkman was elected in November to represent Alaska Senate District D on the Kenai Peninsula. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bjorkman joins Senate majority caucus

He is one of 17 members of the bipartisan group

Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion file
Junetta Delong browses the shelves at the Soldotna Library Friends’ book and art sale at the Soldotna Public Library on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.
Library sale transforms into seasonal celebration

Baked goods, books and art will all be on offer this Saturday at the Soldotna Public Library

A sign welcomes employees and visitors at the Kenai Peninsula Borough administration building on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Cyber Monday sales taxes to boost local government budgets

The ability of taxing entities to collect sales tax from online, or e-commerce, sellers is a new phenomenon

A map shows tracts available as part of an upcoming state oil and gas lease sale in Cook Inlet. (Map via Alaska Department of Natural Resources/Division of Oil and Gas)
Feds set Cook Inlet oil and gas lease sale for Dec. 30

The sale comes as the State of Alaska prepares to hold its own lease sale, also in December

From right, Soldotna City Council members Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings, Dan Nelson and Jordan Chilson listen to testimony during a council meeting on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Council to mull limits on use of Soldotna ADUs as short-term rentals

Accessory dwelling units refer to subordinate, detached units

Most Read