Alaska News

House health committee passes governor's Medicaid expansion bill

JUNEAU -- A Republican-controlled House committee Tuesday night easily moved forward Gov. Bill Walker's bill to expand the public Medicaid health program, but the measure still has many more stops in the Legislature, including some in hostile territory.

Six of the seven legislators on the House Health and Social Services Committee supported House Bill 148, a measure Walker introduced last month after the Legislature rejected his initial attempt to expand Medicaid using the state's annual budget package.

Four members of the Republican-dominated House majority caucus said they were in favor of the bill: Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, Rep. Neal Foster, D-Nome, and Rep. Dave Talerico, R-Healy. The two Democrats on the committee, Fairbanks Rep. Adam Wool and Anchorage Rep. Geran Tarr, also supported the measure.

The only legislator to oppose the bill was Rep. Liz Vazquez, R-Anchorage, who called the Medicaid program an "octopus" in her closing remarks.

The bill now goes to the House Finance Committee, where it does not yet have a hearing scheduled.

Nathaniel Herz

Nathaniel Herz is an Anchorage-based journalist and a former reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He’s been a reporter in Alaska for nearly a decade, with stints at ADN and Alaska Public Media, and has written for, The Washington Post and others. Read his newsletter, Northern Journal, at