Saturday, May 25, 2013
Denali KidCare Expansion Bill To Be Reintroduced Next Legislative Session
An Alaska lawmaker is planning to reintroduce a bill during the next legislative session that would expand health insurance to more Alaskan children who aren’t insured.
An Alaska lawmaker is planning to reintroduce a bill during the next legislative session that would expand health insurance to more Alaskan children who aren't insured.
Last legislative session, Gov. Sean Parnell (R-Alaska) vetoed an expansion for Denali KidCare, which covers 7,900 Alaska children and pregnant women who meet certain income level criteria. Parnell said he vetoed the expansion because it funded abortions he did not support.
According to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, an estimated 18,000 children across the state are uninsured.
Sen. Bettye Davis (D-Anchorage) says since Parnell’s 2010 veto, the state has lost $1.8 million in federal reimbursements in 2011. Davis plans to reintroduce her failed bill during the next legislative session. She says if the program isn’t expanded, Alaskans will pick up the tab in the long run.
“When something serious comes up, they have to take the child to the emergency room, but somebody has to pay for that-- and it’s not the person that’s coming in for the service,” she said.
The bill would help an additional 1,300 children and 200 pregnant women receive treatment.
But those who oppose the bill, including Sen. John Coghill (R-North Pole) say it’s about priorities.
“Every year, there are places that are just in dire need and here we are going to increase this area when we aren’t even able to fund some of the areas that already we promised that we would take care of,” he said.
He says the issue of funding abortions would also have to be looked at.
“Before I move forward I’m willing to say whether it's the right route to go for paying abortions, and for me the answer it's no,” he said.
The Senate Health and Social Services Committee plans to hold a hearing on Thursday regarding the status of Denali KidCare.