Sponsors pull the plug on health care initiatives

The groups behind a pair of voter initiatives to put some popular elements of the Affordable Care Act into state law have suspended their efforts, The Midnight Sun has learned.

The groups, Healthcare for Alaska and Defend Alaska’s Care, had been cleared to begin the process of gathering the more than 32,000 signatures needed to get the initiatives on the 2018 ballot, but political uncertainty made the group rethink its efforts.

Currently, Congress is on track to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and has failed to reauthorize the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Bipartisan fixes that moderate Republicans promised would get attention for their support of repealing the individual mandate have yet to materialize through Alexander-Murray or other legislation.

Taken together, it’s unclear just how proposed initiatives would affect Alaska in the current political climate.

One initiative would have enshrined Medicaid expansion into state law, and the other would have added popular elements of the law, such as allowing children to remain on their parents’ insurance through age 26, into state law.

The initiatives had the backing of doctors from throughout Alaska, as well as the D.C.-based Fairness Project, a union-backed group that has so far focused on local and statewide minimum wage initiatives.

It’s possible that the initiatives could return in some form in 2020.

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