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Parnell still undecided on expansion of Medicaid

Gov. Sean Parnell has not decided whether Alaska will accept expanded Medicaid funding from the federal government, according to Josh Applebee, deputy director for health care policy for the state.

The funding could extend coverage to between 35,000 and 40,000 uninsured people, he said.

Parnell will decide by Dec. 15, when he submits his budget to the Legislature, Applebee said.

The Medicaid expansion would extend the government insurance program mainly to low-income adults without children, he said. The annual income range for eligibility would be up to $13,900 for a single person and up to $18,900 for a couple, Applebee said.

A percentage of the group who would qualify for the expanded Medicaid coverage are Alaska Native and have access to care in the Alaska Native health care system, he said. Providers say that federal funds available in that system do not fully cover the costs of care, Applebee said. Increased Medicaid coverage would allow Native health providers to bill Medicaid to cover more of the cost of care.

The Department of Health and Social Services is putting together a report looking at the costs and benefits of expanding Medicaid. Parnell is waiting to review that before he makes a decision, Applebee said.

-- Anchorage Daily News