Alaska Medicaid History and Facts

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Initial Medicaid Implementation: Alaska was one of the last states to establish its Medicaid program. Alaska authorized its Medicaid program in September of 1972, seven years after Congress passed Medicaid and six years after the program took effect in many states across the country.

Key Medicaid Political Issues: The implementation of the Medicaid program in the state was not without difficulties. The state experienced delays and other problems with the data processing system. The legislature recognized this problem by 1979 and invested heavily in the data processing system and doubling caseworker staff to process eligibility and enrollments in the state’s Medicaid program. At the same time, the federal government implemented an energy assistance program paid for by federal funds. The interaction of this and other public assistance programs has long been a center of Medicaid administration politics.

Medicaid Expansion Implementation: Alaska decided to implement Medicaid expansion after the election of Governor Walker in November of 2014. Through an executive order Governor Bill Walker (I) established Medicaid expansion. Over 43,000 Alaskans have benefited from expansion. Through 2016 there was a legal battle over whether the governor has the legal authority to expand Medicaid that was ultimately abandoned.

General facts about Alaska Medicaid:

Medicaid program name: Medicaid

CHIP Program name: Denali Kidcare

Separate or combined CHIP: Medicaid Expansion

Enrollment: 184,000 (2017)

Total Medicaid Spending: $1.798 billion (2016)

Share of total population covered by Medicaid: 20%

Share of Children covered by Medicaid: 32%

Share of Medicaid that is Children and Adults: 80%

Share of Spending on Elderly and people with disabilities: 55%

Share of Nursing Facility Residents covered by Medicaid: 79%

FMAP: 50%

Expansion state: Yes

Number of people in expansion: 43,705

Work Requirement: None


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