Governor Dunleavy Puts the Lives of Thousands at Risk By Vetoing Medicaid Funding in the State Budget
Jessica Cler, Alaska State Director, 907-841-0092; and
Katie Rogers, Communications Manager, 206-595-0426
For Immediate Release: June 28, 2019 (Updated: June 28, 2019, 9:42 p.m.)
Planned Parenthood Vows to Keep Fighting For Health Care Access For All Alaskans
JUNEAU – Today, Governor Mike Dunleavy cut an additional $77 million from Medicaid program funding in the 2020 budget, including the elimination of preventive adult dental, a decision in direct opposition to the will of Alaskans.
The decision to dramatically cut Medicaid funding will have devastating impacts on Alaskans across the state. Gov. Dunleavy is reducing access to health care, and actively working to roll back Medicaid expansion in the future. This veto will take away lifesaving health care from thousands of Alaskans, including children, elderly, and people with disabilities. Most of Alaska's health care providers — rural hospitals, community health centers and children's hospitals rely on Medicaid funds and these cuts have the potential to upend the entire health care network.
“Governor Mike Dunleavy put his own personal beliefs over the health of thousands of Alaskans when he vetoed funding for this this important program and blocked cancer screenings, birth control, and basic health care from the most vulnerable people in Alaska,” said Jessica Cler, Alaska State Director at Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii. “Alaskans continually ask their elected leaders to expand health care access and protect their health care, not take it away and we’ll be making our voices heard in response to these disastrous cuts.”
Nearly 60 percent of people in Alaska live in rural areas and people living in rural areas are more likely to depend on Medicaid. Medicaid also covers 66 percent American Indian and Alaska Native children and 28 percent American Indian and Alaska Native adults. LGBTQ people in Alaska, especially those who are transgender, people of color, or both — are often less able to access quality health care due to the intersections of racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, ableism, and other systemic barriers. As such, they are more likely to rely on federally funded programs to access care.
This month, a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranked Alaska 45th in the U.S. for children’s wellbeing. This report outlines the barriers children and families face when it comes to education, health care and economic wellbeing. According to the report, “10% of children in Alaska didn’t have health insurance.” Gov. Dunleavy’s funding cuts will only exacerbate these issues. We must do better as a society to support women and families and look for ways to expand services, not create barriers.
The repeated attempts by extreme politicians, including Gov. Dunleavy to repeal the Affordable Care Act, gut the Medicaid program, and rollback access to reproductive health care only compounds the obstacles standing in the way of access to essential and lifesaving health care. In addition, Gov. Dunleavy has never had any shame in his extreme views on safe and legal abortion, but his decision to cut the state’s court system simply because they enforce the law is shockingly spiteful even for him. Dunleavy has shown yet again that he will stop at nothing to punish people who uphold Alaska’s constitutional protection to abortion.
Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest calls on elected leaders in the State House and Senate to override these vetoes and restore support for the critical programs that provide much needed services across the state.
In addition to Medicaid cuts, Governor Dunleavy has also vetoed funding for education, including K-12 education and early learning programs, the University of Alaska system, senior benefits programs, adult public assistance, along with funding for cities and boroughs across the state to balance his budget. This isn’t an “honest budget” as the Governor would like to claim, but rather shifting money away from Alaskans’ health care and education, especially harming the most vulnerable Alaskans. Planned Parenthood is committed to fighting back against this latest attack on the health care of Alaskans.