Gov. Walker cites uncertainty over funding in opposing ACA repeal

Gov. Bill Walker speaks to reporters during a press conference at the Capitol in April. Walker has opposed the latest attempt to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

Gov. Bill Walker gave more reasons Thursday why he opposes the latest bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Bill sponsors say it will give states more flexibility in health care.

But Walker said that’s not enough.

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“Flexibility is something that I’m interested in as a state, as a governor, of course,” Walker said. “But with significantly less money to work with, that’s not the balance I’m looking for. So, more flexibility and less, significantly less money doesn’t work for Alaska.”

Walker said he has spoken several times with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, whose vote could help determine the bill’s fate.

Walker said both he and Murkowski want to know how the bill will affect the state. Walker is an independent and Murkowski is a Republican.

“We’ve had very good discussions, the senator and I have,” Walker said. “We’re both, you know, receiving input and data, sometimes from the same people. And we’re just kind of comparing notes, trying to understand the impact on Alaska from what’s being proposed.”

The bill would discontinue federal financial support of the state’s Medicaid expansion. Walker said Congress may be moving too quickly to determine what will happen to Alaskans.

“It’s unknown really with any specificity what the impact on Alaska is going to be,” Walker said. “And so with that unknown, my concern again is that the process is one that concerns me a great deal.”

In a letter to Congress, Walker joined with nine other governors from both major parties in opposing the bill.

Republican leaders in the Senate are trying to pass the bill by Sept. 30. That’s the deadline for passing a budget bill that requires only 51 votes. After that, the threshold rises to 60 votes.