On July 16th, Gov. Walker held a press conference proclaiming that he plans to use his executive authority to expand Medicaid access to nearly 40,000 Alaskans through federally funded Medicaid programs.
Time and time again studies have shown that catching health problems early is far less expensive than treating people after they have already developed a chronic illness. Medicaid expansion can help improve health outcomes by reducing the number of uninsured Alaskans by half and improving preventative and primary care access. Insured patients with chronic illnesses like heart disease are more likely to take their medication appropriately, have their blood pressure controlled, and are more likely to have been checked for high cholesterol, compared to the uninsured.
Aside from the public health impact, Medicaid expansion will positively impact Alaska’s economy. Federal funds will pay for 100% of services provided due to expansion through 2016 and 90% of services through 2020 and beyond. Expansion will create 4,000 new jobs, $1.2 billion more in wages and salaries, and will save the state roughly $6.1 million in medical costs in the year 2016. This expansion will go into effect by September 1st at the latest.