• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 51s

Groups join to fight new health care legislation, which they say hurts poor families, seniors

By Bonney Bowman 7:40 PM March 9, 2017

The Republican Party’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act passed its first hurdle Thursday. Republicans in the House Ways and Means Committee voted to push through the American Health Care Act, which groups in Alaska are gearing up to fight.

Nonprofits, health care providers, faith groups and advocates formed a coalition called Protect Our Care Alaska. They say seniors and low-income families will be hit hard if the new legislation passes.

The coalition looked at analysis of the new law, provided by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a nonprofit and non-partisan group. Their numbers show the new legislation cuts tax credits for working Alaskans more than families in the Lower 48.

“Our working families, our most critical people, are actually going to have to pay more. We will see about a 78-percent drop in tax credits, so actually an increase of about $10,000,” said Trevor Storrs, executive director for Alaska Children’s Trust.

The trust works to prevent child abuse and neglect and is a member of the coalition.

“Health care, unbeknownst to many people, is one of the key factors in prevention work,” Storrs said. “When a family does not have health care and the services that they need, it creates adversity into the family, which puts kids at much greater risk of experiencing abuse and neglect.”

He says when combined with Alaska’s economic challenges and the highest unemployment rate in the nation, asking people to pay more for health care will hurt people in more places than just their pocketbook.

“When we see economic burden increase further and further, we see increase in alcohol and drug use, increase in domestic violence, increase in child abuse and neglect,” Storrs explained.

He said the new health care legislation also effectively does away with Medicaid expansion in Alaska, which gave 27,000 people access to coverage.

The AARP also spoke out against the new legislation, which includes what they’re calling an “age tax” because it allows insurance companies to charge older people higher premiums.

“This could mean up to an $8,000 premium hike on those who can least afford it and that is simply unacceptable,” said Ann Secrest, director of communications for AARP Alaska.

She says her big concern is for the 148,000 Alaskans aged 55 to 64, who are aging into the Medicare system. They’ll be the ones hit with the so-called age tax. Secrest says this new legislation also does nothing to lower the cost of medication, which has increased under the Affordable Care Act.

“Was the Affordable Care Act perfect? No. But there were many elements that we could have worked with,” said Secrest, who is grateful Medicare Part D remains intact under the proposed legislation.

Alaska’s congressional delegation saw the new legislation for the first time Monday night. Each issued a statement today regarding its potential impact on Alaska.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski said, “My office is working closely with authorities in Alaska to analyze the bill and fully grasp how this may impact Alaska. While the reported numbers might end up being correct, it is still early in the process, and it takes time to conduct those sorts of in-depth analyses. I want to do things right, rather than quickly. Doing things right also means making sure we get an accurate analysis.”

Mike Anderson, a spokesman for Sen. Dan Sullivan, stated:

“The introduction of the American Health Care Act is the first step in a long process to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which has been disastrous for Alaska.

And while Senator Sullivan is still carefully reviewing the legislation – and has some concerns – he is pleased to see that this first step repeals the individual and employer mandates, works towards reducing costs, provides flexibility to states, and continues to provide coverage for those with pre-existing conditions as well as those on their parent’s insurance until age 26.

As the process moves forward, Senator Sullivan will fight for more affordable access to health care, with greater options, for our small businesses and middle class, as well as continued health care for the most vulnerable Alaskans.”

Rep. Don Young’s office issued a statement saying, “Congressman Young continues to review this legislation’s size, scope and direct impact to see whether it supports the goals of reforming our healthcare system in a manner demanded by the Alaskan people.”

KTVA 11’s Bonney Bowman can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Alaskans march against domestic violence and sexual assault

    by Shannon Ballard on Mar 23, 19:54

    Communities across Alaska are taking steps forward, marching in solidarity against what they call an epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault. On Thursday, the Zonta Club of Anchorage organized a march from the Delaney Park Strip to Town Square Park. Roughly 100 people attended. Demonstrations such as this are at the center of the state’s […]

  • Politics

    Alaska Senate passes bill to allow Uber, Lyft in Alaska

    by Liz Raines on Mar 23, 19:24

    The Alaska Senate passed a bill Thursday that gives ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft the green light in Alaska. The measure passed 14 to 5, but not without lengthy debate. Lawmakers spent more than four hours going over the Senate Bill 14. Members of the Democratic minority raised concerns about a provision that allows […]

  • News

    Military props up Alaska’s economy in tough financial times

    by Liz Raines on Mar 23, 19:07

    Alaska’s military leaders are worried the state could become a target for North Korea, and that has armed forces ramping up. Top military officials in Alaska gave state lawmakers an update on the state of the military Thursday, one that shows the new efforts go beyond public safety to helping protect the state’s economy. Alaska’s purse […]

  • On-Air

    Reality Check w/ John Tracy: To vote or not to vote

    by John Tracy on Mar 23, 18:31

    So, here’s a question for you. Do you know who’s running for Anchorage Assembly in your area? Chances are you don’t. Don’t feel bad about that. I have to confess that up until I started writing this commentary, I didn’t know the candidates in my area either, and the election is just 12 days away. […]

  • Sports

    Results: ASAA high school basketball quarterfinals

    by Dave Goldman on Mar 23, 17:05

    Girls 3A Quarterfinals Sitka 78 – Valdez 22 Four players scored in the double figures to lead the Sitka Wolves to an easy win over Valdez. Zosha Krupa scored 22 points in 20 minutes. Alexandra Kirby chipped in a double-double with ten points and ten rebounds. Anchorage Christian 54 – Galena 37 After a slow […]

  • Politics

    White House tells House Republicans ,’Let’s vote’ on health care bill

    by Associated Press on Mar 23, 16:44

    The Latest on the upcoming health care vote in the House (all times local): 7:50 p.m. President Donald Trump wants the House to vote on the health care bill, and Republicans say a vote will occur Friday. White House officials had a simple message to a divided House Republican caucus on the bill: “Let’s vote.” […]

  • Results mostly positive with ASD’s fitness trackers

    by Daybreak Staff on Mar 23, 12:33

    In the fall of 2015 the Anchorage School District handed out a device called “Sqord” to students in 36 schools. The device is similar to a Fitbit watch and connects a social online world with activity tracking. Kids accumulated points based on how active they were and can compare with friends and classmates. The initiative […]

  • See the Easter Bunny and more on the railroad’s Easter Train

    by Daybreak Staff on Mar 23, 12:31

    Families looking to get out of Anchorage and celebrate spring and Easter can hop on board the Alaska Railroad’s Easter Train on April 8. The train will depart from Anchorage twice, once in the morning and in the afternoon. The total ride is expected to last two and a half hours. It will head down the […]