Alaska Governor Ignores GOP-Led Legislature And Expands Medicaid Without Them

As many as 40,000 low-income Alaskan residents will reap the benefits of having a governor without a (R) next to his name. In an era when a governor’s actions are more often than not detrimental to their state, it was a welcome change to hear that Governor Bill Walker, a former Republican now turned Independent, will sidestep the obstructive GOP regime in his state and expand Medicaid by executive order.

Since the Supreme Court made the expansion optional in 2012, Alaskan Republicans have continually blocked any attempts to expand the program, parroting the right-wing talking point that low-income people need to take more “personal responsibility” for themselves. With Alaska being one of the more conservative states, the stance isn’t exactly surprising; Republicans took many of the seats in their 2014 takeover of the senate by campaigning on the backs of the poor, spreading hate for a situation their party not only creates, but advocates.

According to the GOP, the poor are only poor because they deserve to be. They don’t deserve health care, especially preventative medicine that could save their lives, because poor people who live longer will be a strain on the economy longer and vote Democrat.

In March, State Rep. Shelley Hughes (R) said in reference to uninsured Alaskans:

“I think in this time, in these lean years, it’s time for communities to pull together, it’s time for churches to step up, it’s time to help give a hand to each other as individuals. We can be kind as people. It’s not government’s place to be kind.”

Next time you have a medical emergency that sends you to the hospital in an ambulance and has you admitted for a week, don’t sweat it. The kindness of the community will be there to take care of your $100,000 in medical bills. Yes, all 40,000 of you. Just go to church, everything will be alright.

The U.S. bankruptcy court would probably disagree, since unpaid medical expenses was the number one cause of liquidation for two decades straight.

Speaking about his decision to use executive action to implement the expansion, Governor Walker said in a press conference Thursday:

“This is the final option for me — I’ve tried everything else. Thousands of Alaskans and more than 150 organizations, including chambers of commerce, local hospitals, and local governments, have been waiting long enough for Medicaid expansion. It’s time to expand Medicaid so thousands of our friends, coworkers, neighbors, and family members don’t have to make the choice between health care or bankruptcy.”

Not every state has the kind of provisions Alaska does for an executive order of this nature, but all across the country conservatives are beginning to understand that Obamacare is here to stay. Medicaid expansion is an integral part of the law. It takes the burden of healthcare costs from millions of poor people, assuring tens of thousands of doctors and hospitals that they won’t be left holding the bill when their emergency rooms serve as the primary care provider for those who can’t pay.

Progress is slow, but in today’s political climate, any progress is welcome.

Featured image: Wikipedia