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Appeal Proceeds Without Approval of the Full Alaska Legislature as Required by Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 6, 2016

Juneau – The Republican-controlled leadership in the Alaska House of Representatives has filed an appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court of a lawsuit challenging Medicaid expansion in Alaska without approval of the full Alaska Legislature as required by law.  The ill-advised lawsuit was dismissed in March by a Superior Court Judge after finding that the Social Security Act allowed the Governor to initiate Medicaid expansion and that existing state law required Governor Walker to provide Medicaid to the group of Alaskans eligible for expansion. 

“The law is clear– any court action undertaken on behalf of the Alaska Legislature while in session must be authorized by a vote of the Legislature.  No such vote was taken despite the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition putting the question before the Legislature.  The Republican-controlled leadership is violating the law by arbitrarily filing this appeal,” said Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition (AIDC) leader Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage).  “The notice of appeal lists the Alaska House of Representatives as an appellant.  The members of my Coalition oppose this lawsuit and were never given the chance to vote on this matter.  Plain and simple, this is an abuse of power by the Majority leadership in the House.”

The decision to appeal the Medicaid expansion lawsuit will cost the state another $150,000, on top of the $300,000 already spent.  The members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition oppose continuing a legally unwinnable lawsuit that wastes valuable state money during a fiscal crisis. 

“Medicaid expansion is working by saving us money while simultaneously improving the healthcare options for thousands of Alaskans,” said Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage).  “Continuing this lawsuit essentially results in the Republican leadership of the House Majority Caucus spending money to not save money.  They are breaking the law, attempting to bypass hundreds of millions in federal money, and gambling with the future health of the Alaska people.”

The Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition and the Alaska Senate Democrats made a motion in April to put the decision to appeal or not appeal the Medicaid expansion lawsuit to a vote of the full Alaska Legislature.  The motion was tabled in both bodies thereby preventing a vote on continuing the lawsuit.

For more information, please contact Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.

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