ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Members of AFSCME Retiree Chapter 52 delivered a petition with more than 600 signatures to Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office this week urging her to oppose the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Legislation unveiled by Congress would place a cap on federal Medicaid spending, reduce tax credits, and cause millions to lose their health insurance.
Capping federal Medicaid spending would be especially harmful in Alaska, where health care costs are higher and growing faster than in any other state. If the legislation becomes law, the state will receive less of what is needed each year to provide health coverage for seniors, poor children, pregnant women, and individuals with disabilities.
“The ACA has made it where many Alaskans can access health care instead of relying on the emergency room,” said Jan Carolyn Hardy, a retired state employee and secretary of Retiree Chapter 52. As an employee of the Department of Labor, Hardy helped residents find job training and employment.
“We have to protect Medicare and Medicaid to honor the pioneers who built this state,” she said. “If it weren’t for seniors working hard, many people wouldn’t be able to live here today.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has delayed the vote until after the July 4 recess in hopes of fixing the legislation and gaining more support – including Murkowski’s. But the only way to fix this bill is to kill it. Instead of drafting legislation that takes health care away from millions of Americans, Congress should be finding ways to improve and expand coverage.
Murkowski said she is currently reviewing the numbers on the legislation, but has not yet taken a clear position. As highlighted by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, legislation unveiled by Congress could cause 30,000 Alaskans covered by the Medicaid expansion to lose their health care. The state would also see a large reduction in ACA tax credits, which more than 16,000 residents use to purchase insurance, according to a research paper published by the University of Alaska Anchorage.
“I hope Sen. Murkowski will do the right thing and oppose the repeal of the Affordable Care Act,” said Dale Chubin, a retired corrections officer and president of AFSCME Retiree Chapter 52. “Taking away health care would be another blow to Alaskans who are already struggling to make ends meet in an ongoing recession.”