Walker needs $92 million more for Medicaid expansion


The Walker Administration needs an additional $92 million for the 2018 fiscal year to cover the extra costs resulting from his Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

That’s on top of the additional $100 million more he needed as a supplemental for his 2017 budget, and the $30 million supplemental needed for the program’s inaugural year, 2016.


There’s an explanation, said Valerie Davidson, Health and Human Services commissioner. More people enrolled in Medicaid than the she projected. But that was largely due to Alaska’s weak economy, she told the Senate Finance Committee.


In 2015, before it grew, Alaska’s Medicaid program covered 120,000 low-income children, pregnant women, and people with disabilities in what is considered by the industry as Cadillac health care coverage.

The Obamacare expansion, signed by executive order by Gov. Bill Walker in 2015, was to cover about 20,000 more.

These expansion enrollees are able-bodied adults without children making less than $1,707 per month for single adults, or $10.66 per hour,  about a dollar more per hour than Alaska’s minimum wage. The income cutoff is $2,303 per month for a couple.


In 2016, the Walker Administration claimed that 45 percent of the 20,000 expansion adults were employed Alaskans.

But in 2018, the Administration is telling a different story: The Department of Health and Human Services told Senate Finance that 60 percent of enrollees were already employed, a third more than it said were employed in 2016.
The estimate may have changed in response to some legislators are talking about creating a work requirement for Medicaid expansion recipients — able-bodied adults without children.
In fact, there’s a movement around the country to do just that, with 10 Republican-led states studying the change.

But the Walker Administration is not open to that work requirement option, according to spokesman Clinton Bennett, even though the Trump Administration has opened the door for requiring able-bodied recipients to either get a job — any job — or enroll in job training.

“The Department of Health and Social Services is not considering such changes to Alaska’s Medicaid program at this time. A majority of Alaskans enrolled in Medicaid are children, retirees, disabled individuals, or are living in working households,” Bennett said in a statement.


In 2015, critics warned that the Obamacare Medicaid expansion would create a tax cliff, where earning one single dollar over a set amount would plunge lower-income workers into owing several thousands of dollars for mandated Obamacare insurance.

The concern expressed back then was that expanding Medicaid would diminish the incentive to work and would hurt the economy.

In Alaska, it was predicted that 4,000 able-bodied adults might drop out of the workforce entirely, if they were able to enroll in the Medicaid expansion. They might decide that working part-time and using Medicaid is a better option than working full time and having to pay for insurance.

That calculus has changed now that Obamacare’s individual mandate has been rolled back by the Trump Administration and Congress. People are no longer forced to buy insurance if it isn’t offered by their workplace.


  1. What’s the problem?

    We’re talking a mere $92M to sustain (that word is, like, so cool, you just want to use it everywhere!) Alaska’s only two growth industries, government and “health care”.

    Everyone knows a modest (another cool word!) income tax and sales tax and education tax and studded-tire tax on productive Alaskans can easily raise $92M and more.

    So, why stop at $92M?

    Guess we’ll have to re-elect Governor Walker and our House of Lobbyists-Disciplinarians-Representatives to find out!

    • Mr. Walker ~
      So you want obummy care, which is
      Also tax payers monies to help support all forms of abortions ~
      Without this expansion you wouldn’t know how to take our tax payers monies to keep aborting children . Would you encourage your own flesh n blood to open up their legs while the abortist to suck the baby out alive~?

  2. So, I ask the usual Liberal question Governor, what is your plan for pay this expanded Medicade healthcare? Who are you going to tax or tax more. Or, maybe we will all give up our whole PFD this year.

  3. Experience shows that Medicaid – WELFARE – can produce additional government spending without limit. If you want TOTAL government control over the economy and people’s lives, Medicaid can achieve that result. And probably very quickly.

  4. Ms. Downing, your article is extraordinarily misleading. $4M does not equal $92M. Your opinion title should read, “$4 Million more needed for Medicare expansion.” You’re hollering something costs a dollar when it actually costs a nickel.

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