10 STEPS TO HOW WE GOT TO THIS POINT
Gov. Bill Walker is asking for another 41 employees in the Department of Health and Social Services because the overwhelming number of “Medicaid expansion” applicants has meant those applying for food stamps can’t get the help they need from the department.
“[Monica] Windom says her staff has been overwhelmed by Medicaid cases since the 2015 program expansion. Now, it can’t keep up with the food stamp program either,” KTVA reported.
Gov. Walker promised in 2015 that Medicaid expansion was essentially free. So Must Read Alaska reviewed the timeline:
1. In August, 2015, Walker expands Medicaid by executive order. He says it will save the state money. In August of 2015, he wrote:
“If we act now, we can expect to bring in $1 billion in new federal health care dollars over the next six years, and save more than $100 million in state general funds. Medicaid expansion also means up to 4,000 new jobs. In the first year that we expand Medicaid, the state will save $6.6 million. This will provide a much-needed boost to our economy and relief to our budget. We can’t afford not to expand Medicaid,” Walker wrote in the Alaska Dispatch News. “We anticipate $240 million in savings over the next six years as a result of initiatives to improve and streamline the program, and my administration is working with a consultant to identify further opportunities.”
2. Republicans in the Legislature sue to stop him because the Legislature has appropriation power and, besides, they don’t believe this will save the state money.
3. Walker wins the lawsuit and immediately expands Medicaid to adults without children who are earning 138 percent of the federally established poverty level. Superior Court Judge Frank A. Pfiffner said in his ruling that legislators had not proved that expanding the program would cause the state “irreparable harm.”
4. By 2017, over 184,000 people in Alaska are covered by Medicaid.
5. By February, 2018 Alaska’s Medicaid and public assistance applications are backlogged at 20,000. Caseworkers are falling behind.
6. In March, 2018, the Legislature approves $45 million in supplemental spending that the Administration needs to keep Alaska’s Medicaid program from imploding before the end of April.
7. In May of 2018, the Public Assistance Division says it can’t process the paperwork fast enough, and are so busy signing up able-bodied adults without children for Medicaid, that workers cannot process applications for food stamps or electronic benefit transfer cards (EBT cards). And people are now starving, according to news reports.
8. In May of 2018, Walker blames Senate Republicans and wants to hire 41 new state employees to process paperwork for the food stamp program.
9. By 2018, more than 200,00 Alaskans are enrolled in Medicaid due to its massive expansion.
10. Local media outlets blames Republicans for starving people.