Legislators Plot Their Next Move As Medicaid Rollout Looms

A legislative committee plans to meet Tuesday to discuss whether or not to challenge Gov. Bill Walker’s plan to expand Medicaid in Alaska.

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One point of contention is if the thousands of lower-income Alaskans who comprise the expansion population are a mandatory group for coverage or an optional group.

The federal health care law expanded eligibility for Medicaid, but the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 said states could not be penalized if they didn’t participate in expansion.

Some read the court’s decision as meaning the expansion population is optional and that legislative approval is necessary for giving the group coverage.

In July, Walker announced plans to accept federal money to expand Medicaid after legislators tabled his bill for further review. The targeted expansion rollout date is Sept. 1.