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AFN calls on Parnell to accept Medicaid expansion

  • Author: Dermot Cole
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published October 27, 2013

FAIRBANKS -- Upwards of 40,000 more Alaskans would be covered by Medicaid, with most of the cost covered by the federal government, but only if Gov. Sean Parnell accepts the expansion plan. On Saturday, the last day of the annual Alaska Federation of Natives convention, the group called on Parnell to move in that direction.

To date, Parnell has not said he would agree to the program, which would mean $1.1 billion in additional federal funds over the first seven years, with increased costs to the state of $23.4 million.

AFN called on Parnell and the Legislature to approve the expansion plan, effective Jan. 1, "so that Alaska residents can benefit from the services at the earliest opportunity."

The resolution was one of more than three dozen approved by convention delegates Saturday morning on the final day of the convention.

Among the other measures, AFN delegates said:

• The state needs to step up enforcement against dangerous drugs such as heroin and methamphetamines. There is anecdotal evidence that couriers are using small air taxis to transport the drugs.

• The Parnell administration should reactivate the Immediate Action Workgroup to address climate change concerns.

• Local, state and federal agencies should help build the "capacity to end suicide in our communities."

• The state should support, not hinder, the expansion of tribal courts in rural Alaska.

• Congress should pay all indirect costs owed to tribes, complying with a recent Supreme Court decision.

• Congress should exempt all tribal programs from the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration.

• The State of Alaska should declare May 31 as "Katie John Day" in honor of the late Ahtna elder who was the lead plaintiff in a landmark subsistence rights lawsuit. She died May 31, 2013.

• The late actor and cinematographer Ray Mala, an Alaskan who starred in the 1933 movie "Eskimo," deserves a spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

• The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council should reduce the king salmon bycatch limit to no more than 15,000 to help deal with the critical shortage of salmon on major river systems.

• The federal subsistence review board should give a priority to customary and traditional use activities, such as fish-camp drying and smoking of salmon, particularly for species in short supply, like Yukon-Kuskokwim kings.

• The Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council, which includes nine Alaska Natives as well as federal and state officials, deserves an annual appropriation from the state.

• Congress should enact a subsistence priority for "indigenous hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering on all Alaskan lands and waters."

• Congress should repeal the provision in the federal Violence Against Women Act that excludes Alaska tribes and work to support the authority of tribes to deal with the issue.

• The conflicting definitions of "Indian" in the Affordable Care Act should be cleared up.

• Take a variety of steps to protect Alaska Native women and help end the "unconscionable epidemic of violence against Alaska Native women and children..."

• Additional alcohol and drug treatment centers and homeless shelters are needed across the state.

• The one-foot high kick deserves a place in the Winter Olympics.

• Alaska should declare itself a "Right to Mush" state, fighting back against efforts to attack mushing. "Mushers all over the state are being bullied, intentionally disturbed and bothered by individuals who have no respect for the art of dog mushing," a resolution said.

• Each region of the state should create a Get Out the Native Vote campaign, focused on ages 18 to 35.

• AFN should lead an initiative in Indian Country calling for a new statue to be placed at the entrance of the education center of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, honoring all American Indian/Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian soldiers in all wars.

• AFN is to conduct hearings across the state to collect information and suggest changes to subsistence laws and regulations.

• Federal law should be amended to allow Bureau of Indian Education funding for tribal schools in Alaska, just as it is to tribes in the Lower 48.

• Reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, with amendments, one of which would be to add a voting member nominated by Alaska's tribes.

Dermot Cole can be reached at dermot(at) Follow him on Twitter @DermotMCole

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