FAIRBANKS — Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has expressed concern about the potential risks to Medicaid in the latest Republican-led repeal of former President Barack Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act.

The new bill, presented last week by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., would erase many of the previous subsidies associated with the ACA and create a health care system that relies heavily on block grants to fund state health coverage. A central part of the bill would restructure Medicaid, a form of health coverage many low-income and disabled Alaskans rely on.

GOP senators have until Oct. 1 before their health care reform efforts are no longer protected against Democratic filibusters. 

Walker also had concern about the impact on Medicaid of previous GOP efforts to replace the ACA.

“Our country’s Medicaid program has been in place for over 50 years,” Walker said regarding the latest GOP plan. “Any proposal to restructure Medicaid goes far beyond repealing the Affordable Care Act.”

Walker said he thinks that individual states should have the opportunity to weigh in on potential changes that would affect health care on their residents. 

“Given Alaska’s current fiscal challenges, any proposal to shift federal costs to the states would likely result in drastic cuts to our Medicaid program,” Walker said. 

Medicaid is a state-federal program providing health care for children, pregnant women, low-income adults, the elderly and people with disabilities.

Walker said he is still reviewing aspects of the latest GOP bill and is working with a bipartisan group of governors to come up with “innovative reform ideas that can bring down the cost of health care.”

Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski has previously expressed concern

regarding the idea of block grants but said she has not yet had a chance to review the bill and has not taken a stance on it yet. 

Murkowski has been in Washington, D.C., for most of the month participating in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearings with health insurance directors and governors from across the country.

Last week, Murkowski discussed state waivers, such as a much-lauded 1332 waiver, in the committee’s third hearing on stabilizing health care premiums. 

Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan also said he has not fully reviewed the legislation and has not taken a position.  

President Donald Trump announced he supports the new bill, stating Wednesday that “inaction is not an option” and that he applauds Graham and Cassidy for “continuing to work toward a solution.”

Contact staff writer Erin Granger at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMPolitics. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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