Reality Check w/ John Tracy: Will Sen. Dan Sullivan protect Alaskans' health care?
The so-called American Health Care Act passed by the U.S. House last month will not be the bill that passes through the Senate.
The Obamacare replacement, as written by the House, would cost Alaskans more than anyone else in the country.
Thousands of Alaskans who are forced to buy coverage on the exchange market would see their current premiums increase by more than $12,000 annually, according to the Center for Budget and Policy priorities.
That’s almost twice as much as the next closest state.
Under the American Health Care Act, insurance companies could once again charge more for patients with pre-existing conditions. The Kaiser Foundation estimates there are more than 100,000 such Alaskans at risk.
And the bill cuts more than $800 billion from Medicaid, turning the program into a finite block grant that will almost certainly erode coverage for the 180,000 Alaskans on the program.
The bill is bad medicine for Alaskans, and our congressional delegation knows it.
Alaska’s only congressman, Don Young, voted with his party. He said it was to advance the bill where it could be fixed in the Senate.
A no vote would not have changed the outcome.
Now that question moves to the Senate, where Sen. Lisa Murkowski has already indicated she will protect Planed Parenthood, Medicaid expansion and coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.
All of which puts her at odds with the Republican Party.
So the attention turns to junior Sen. Dan Sullivan, who has almost consistently voted with his party.
I believe we need to have access to affordable healthcare for all Alaskans.
At a spirited town meeting last weekend, humorist and pundit Mr. Whitekeys, put the question to Sullivan this way:
Are you able and willing to summon the courage and bravery from your marine days in order to defy your party’s wishes if it’s in Alaska’s best interests on health care?
Sullivan gave a thoughtful answer on the complexities of health care, but in the end ducked the question.
From my perspective on this one I’m fully focused on keeping the people from our state in mind.
Sullivan is still a Marine Officer and has always been a model soldier.
He knows his party’s current replacement of Obamacare could do more harm than good, especially in Alaska.
And he can be taken at his word that he will work to make it better.
But if the bill his party puts on the floor puts health care out of reach for many Alaskans, it will put Dan Sullivan in a position more difficult than a town hall meeting.
When it comes to his vote, for whose side will the good soldier fight?
John’s opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.