Sen. Mike Dunleavy is urging Gov. Bill Walker to nix his Medicaid expansion order or risk a lawsuit.


In a memo to Walker and legislative committees, Dunleavy says Walker should rescind the order to give the Alaska Legislature time to “vet the issue, or risk a lawsuit over the Legislature’s constitutional authority to appropriate funds,” according to a statement from the Alaska Senate Majority.


“[T]he announcement on July 16 by Governor Walker that he would unilaterally expand Medicaid by superseding the normal public process of legislative hearings means the voice of my constituents via me as their elected senator is being quashed,” Dunleavy wrote in the memo.


In lieu of a lawsuit, Dunleavy suggests the governor delay Medicaid expansion until lawmakers can review the legislation. In the memo, the Republican urges House and Senate leadership to “publicly commit” to make Medicaid “the first order of business” in the 2016 regular session or have a special session in October.


“If Governor Walker chooses to move forward with his unilateral action, however, Senator Dunleavy urges Legislative Council to commence with a lawsuit asserting the Legislature’s authority to appropriate funds,” the Senate Majority release states.


Walker submitted his own Medicaid expansion and reform legislation during the past regular legislative session. It was not voted on during the regular session or the two special sessions that followed.


Last month, the governor announced his plans to accept federal funds for the program, action for which he says he has the authority and responsibility. Walker says the expansion will save the state $100 million in its first six years and open Medicaid to 40,000 Alaskans.


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