Medicaid Expansion Event Brings Out Lawmakers, Davidson

Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd in the Alaska Capitol, Christie Herrera, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Government Accountability, briefs legislators, staffers and members of the press about Medicaid expansion, March 4, 2015. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)
Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd in the Alaska Capitol, Christie Herrera, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Government Accountability, briefs legislators, staffers and members of the press about Medicaid expansion, March 4, 2015. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

Legislators, aides and others heard an alternate viewpoint on Medicaid expansion from a senior fellow with an organization that has referred to the “dangers” expansion poses in states that opt for it.

Download Audio

Christie Herrera, with the Foundation for Government Accountability, spoke to problems that she said some states have experienced. Herrera spoke during an informal “lunch and learn,” sponsored by Sen. Mike Dunleavy.

State health commissioner Valerie Davidson, who also attended, questioned Herrera’s use of data in Arizona and Maine, which expanded Medicaid on their own and not under the federal health care law.

Herrera billed those states as cautionary tales, and said they provide a longer-term view of data.

Herrera was also confronted by Rep. Les Gara, an Anchorage Democrat.

“Why is it bad to provide health insurance to people who are low-income workers who work for a living?” Gara said.

Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage, questions Christie Herrera, senior fellow with the Foundation for Government Accountability in the Alaska Capitol, March 4, 2015. Herrera was briefing legislators, staffers and members of the press on Medicaid expansion. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)
Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage, questions Christie Herrera, senior fellow with the Foundation for Government Accountability in the Alaska Capitol, March 4, 2015. Herrera was briefing legislators, staffers and members of the press on Medicaid expansion. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

In her response, Herrera said she believes that Medicaid expansion will serve as a disincentive when it comes to people finding gainful employment.

“In my opinion, I don’t think more government spending and more people on a welfare program brings prosperity,” Herrera said.

Before the event, Gara had sent out an e-mail blast calling the Foundation for Government Accountability an “outside group” and pointing out their ties to the conservative industrialists David and Charles Koch.

Medicaid expansion has been a priority of Gov. Bill Walker. He is planning town-hall meetings to tout the benefits of expansion and rally support as lawmakers consider it.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the Foundation for Government Accountability paid for the lunch. The group Americans for Prosperity purchased the sandwiches.