Pair of ballot initiatives would enshrine Obamacare and Medicaid expansion in state law

The state is reviewing two ballot initiatives that would add key provisions of Obamacare—known formally as the Affordable Care Act—to state law as a safeguard against President Donald Trump and congressional Republican’s efforts to repeal the law.

One initiative would add generally popular parts of the 2010 health care bill to state law, including provisions that allow children up to 26 stay on their parent’s insurance, a requirement that insurers cover preexisting conditions and the 10 essential health benefits such as ambulance rides, prescription medicine, maternity care and mental health care. The initiative would also ban limits on lifetime spending.

The second initiative would preserve Medicaid expansion by requiring Alaska’s Denali KidCare and Medicaid programs maintain the same eligibility standards and benefit levels as they were on Jan. 1, 2017. The law specifically doesn’t prevent the Legislature or another initiative from expanding eligibility or increase benefits.

The initiatives were filed earlier this month and reported on Tuesday by the Alaska Dispatch News’ Nat Herz. Both efforts have the backing of a political group run by The Midnight Sun owner Jim Lottsfeldt, who helped recruit the doctors who filed the initiatives.

Those doctors include Alan Gross of Petersburg, Alec Glass, George Rhyneer and Megan LeMasters Soule of Anchorage. They’ll have until early next year to gather some 32,000 signatures—10 percent of the last general election turnout—to get each petition on next year’s ballot. The group has already spent nearly than $350,000 on the process, according to filings with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

Much of the debt has been incurred with Scott Kohlhaas for signature gathering and another $30,000 with Lottsfeldt Strategies. The groups in total report $50,000 in income from the Washington, D.C.-based The Fairness Project, which has focused on raising minimum wage through state-based initiatives.

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