Alaska Superior Court Judge Frank Pfiffner denied on Friday the Legislative Council’s request to stop the implementation of Medicaid expansion in early September. Judge Pfiffner’s decision allows the Administration of Governor Bill Walker to begin expanding Medicaid on September 1st.
Governor Bill Walker said in a prepared statement, “Judge Pfiffner’s ruling [Friday] ensures 20,000 working Alaskans will have access to health care on September 1st. Medicaid expansion will not only save the state over $100 million in its first six years, it will save Alaskan lives. I look forward to working with members of the legislature on implementing the Healthy Alaska Plan.”
Alaska Senate President Kevin Meyer and Alaska House Speaker Mike Chenault were disappointed with the ruling. “[Friday’s] preliminary ruling was not in our favor, but we remain hopeful going forward,” President Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage) said.
“Regardless of the legal outcome, the Senate will continue to work toward Medicaid reform. We owe it to future generations to ensure the program is sustainable and adequately serves today’s most vulnerable, particularly during these fiscally challenging times.”
“I’m disappointed with [Friday’s] ruling on the temporary restraining order,” Speaker Chenault (R-Nikiski) said. “This motion was just one step in the process, and we continue to feel very strongly about our constitutional argument that was presented. We are by no means looking for a way to stop Medicaid expansion; we are trying to do it the right way so that we have a reliable, sustainable system.”
The ruling is being praised by the members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition (AIDC). “Medicaid expansion does several very good things for the state of Alaska,” said AIDC Leader Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage). “It saves the state millions of dollars during tight fiscal times, injects billions into the Alaska economy, increases the number of Alaskans with healthcare, and will result in cheaper healthcare insurance for everyone. The Republican Majority should not be frivolously spending public money supporting an outside advocacy law firm dedicated to stopping Medicaid expansion nationwide.”
Republican Legislators Believe Governor’s action to expand Medicaid violates the Alaska Constitution; Alaska Legislature Takes Governor to Court