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Alaska Gov. Bill Walker

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Alaska governor moving unilaterally on Medicaid


Juneau, the rather vulnerable-looking capital of Alaska.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, an independent,  is moving to expand Medicaid for his state’s low-income residents,  as  was intended in  the Affordable Care Act but that some Republican-controlled legislators have opposed. That mostly because they fear that the expansion would be ruinously expensive to their states in the long run. 

Mr. Walker told state legislators that he plans to apply directly to the Obama administration to make the expansion. That would lead lawmakers  to either call a special session or take action to stop his plan from moving forward.

The governor will give the Republican-controlled  legislature 45 days to act  before he acts  unilaterally.  Legislators had previously had refused to expand the program. Mr. Walker says that by not expanding Medicaid, the state loses $400,000 a day in money that would otherwise come from the Feds.

The state has taken a big fiscal hit in the past couple of years from low oil prices.

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