Sun. Aug 25th, 2019

Alaska Citizens Outraged by Budget Cuts by Dunleavy Administration

3 min read
Budget Cuts

The Dunleavy administration has implemented a 182 line veto to the Alaskan State budget recently, totaling around 400 million U.S. dollars. These vetoes have affected the judicial system, the Alaskan State University, and the Medicaid health and dental coverage.

Alaska’s ACLU has filed a lawsuit, claiming that this was an attack on the state’s judicial system and a way for Dunleavy to wield more power. The spokesperson for the ACLU has declared that they believe that this budget reduction could indirectly coerce judges to act impartially. He states it is unconstitutional to try to levy his own agenda on the judicial system.

The biggest hit has arguably been taken by Medicaid because the emergency rule change cut provider rates by 5%. The annual inflation increase was blocked too. The ASHNHA (Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association) filed a lawsuit on July 12 as well, suing Alaska’s DHSS (Department of Health and Social Services). Their claim is that the Donleavy government misused the emergency regulations option to slash the incomes of doctors, dentists, and clinics. They’re fighting to stop these regulations from becoming permanent.

ASHNHA’s president, B. Hultberg, has claimed that there was no rule for an emergency veto. The standard way of doing things included involving the Alaskan public, she said, giving them a say before any regulation was passed. The emergency process is reserved for life-and-death reasons, and nothing at Medicaid was at the level that it needed this.

Many speculate that the Dunleavy administration wanted to avoid public input, and this path of emergency was just the way to do it. Dunleavy’s veto took 117 million U.S. dollars from the Medicaid program in Alaska when they were announced on June 28. They are to be in effect from July 1 until October 28.

The Alaska Superior Court will have its hands full in Anchorage. And if the cuts somehow manage to get reversed, Dunleavy could still try to implement them later on. However, it would have to go through the standardized process, which gives the people a say too.

If the lawsuit is successful, it would require the state to reverse the cuts. Although, the state could seek to reimpose them through the traditional regulatory process, which is slower.

Those that claim this was an artificially induced emergency believe that the Republican Dunleavy administration did so because of their political stance. This act of cutting the funding of the medical field would make it so that there were less state-funded medical abortions. That is for doctors to decide, ASHNHA claims — their hand should not be forced by budget cuts.

Likewise, Alaskan residents dealing with chronic dental pain are truly out of luck. Not only are some typical services affected, such as fillings and teeth cleaning, but you have to have money out of your pocket for dentures as well.

One of the line items vetoed from the budget by the Alaska Legislature regarding Medicaid coverage was 27 million U.S. dollars for adult dental care.

Critics say this slash in the dental budget is exceptionally shortsighted, as many Alaskans will be walking around without teeth because of it. That can only create more problems in the future.

Statistics show that nearly 30% of Alaska’s population relies on Medicaid for their health care services. With the inflation the rate reductions imposed, there’s no telling how far down the rabbit hole the whole situation will go. Health service providers will have to cut their service offers or raise prices, both of which will result in fewer people being able to afford medical care.

The upcoming fiscal year of 2020 will be markedly underfunded.

The Dunleavy administration made only a brief comment, stating that all the lawsuits filed had little merit to them.

Who will walk out a winner remains to be seen.

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