Gov. Walker speaks out against healthcare reform
Gov. Bill Walker says he's against the latest version of the Senate Republican's health care bill because he's worried Alaskans might be hurt in the process.
Walker told KTVA Thursday, he doesn't think the block grant piece of the proposal makes sense for Alaska because the state would likely receive less money.
Though the grants may give states more control over healthcare regulations and the use of federal funding, Walker says Alaska is so big -- and has such a small population -- it wouldn't work here.
"It may provide us more flexibility, but with less funding, which most of the analysis I've seen, shows Alaska would receive less dollars, that doesn't balance out," Walker said in a phone interview Thursday.
Walker says there's too much conflicting information for him to support the bill, and adds that if its authors can't say with assurance that Alaska won't get hurt in the process of an Affordable Care Act repeal, he's against it.
The governor's also against the process for consideration of the measure, sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA). On Tuesday, Walker signed a letter to Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, along with nine other governors, urging bipartisan consideration of the issue.
"It's as much about the process that I was concerned about as anything else," Walker said. "The letter that was presented to me initially had a bit of a partisan tone to it. Obviously, being non-partisan, I'm not interested in the partisan message. So, I edited some edits to tone it down a bit, and make sure it was consistent with our prior letters."
Alaska's senators are still undecided about the bill. Walker says he has been in touch with them about it.
"I don't know how they're going to vote, but I think they certainly know my position, my wishes," Walker said. "Based on my signature on that letter, it's pretty clear that I don't support the amendment."
Lisa Murkowski (R) and Dan Sullivan (R) met with Graham and Cassidy privately yesterday. If the majority wants to get it passed with just 50 senators, instead of the usual 60, they have to vote by the end of next week.