Eight of the eleven members of the Anchorage Assembly have signed onto a letter urging Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan to vote against the Graham-Cassidy health care repeal.
The letter, which is not officially from the Assembly, expresses concern about the hurried health care bill’s impact on crime and the Anchorage economy.
The letter was signed by Assemblymembers Christopher Constant, Eric Croft, Tim Steele, Dick Traini, Felix Rivera, Forrest Dunbar, Pete Petersen and Suzanne LaFrance. Assemblymembers Amy Demoboski, Fred Dyson and John Weddleton did not sign on.
In light of crime-filled headlines and pending legislative action on crime, the group said cutting Medicaid will only make the situation worse. Medicaid funding plays a particularly important role in combating crime in Anchorage area, they said, because it can be used to fund treatment for substance abuse and addiction. A similar concern has been echoed by Gov. Bill Walker, who said Medicaid is often the only way for some people to get treatment.
“Dramatically cutting Medicaid funding would eliminate addiction and behavioral health treatment for many Alaskans, and would exacerbate opioid epidemic-related property crimes and assaults,” said the letter. “While the municipality has added over a hundred police officers to the force in the last two years, we cannot get crime under control if the federal government is reducing support for addiction treatment.”
Here’s the letter in full: