Legislature(2007 - 2008)HOUSE FINANCE 519

04/02/2007 01:30 PM FINANCE

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
01:42:42 PM Start
01:44:28 PM HB198
03:36:09 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HOUSE BILL NO. 198                                                                                                            
     An  Act   establishing  the  Alaska   senior  assistance                                                                   
     payment   program;  repealing   the   senior  care   and                                                                   
     longevity bonus  payment programs; and providing  for an                                                                   
     effective date.                                                                                                            
1:46:38 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Chenault MOVED  to  ADOPT work  draft  #25-LS074\E,                                                                   
Mischel,  3/30/07, as  the  version of  the  bill before  the                                                                   
Committee.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was adopted.                                                                           
1:47:25 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MIKE  HAWKER,  SPONSOR,  explained  that  the                                                                   
original  HB 198  established  the Alaska  Senior  Assistance                                                                   
Program  to provide  cash assistance  payments to  low-income                                                                   
Alaska seniors.   The program,  which is scheduled  to sunset                                                                   
June  30,  2007,  was  amended  to  remove  the  little  used                                                                   
prescription drug benefit and  increase monthly cash payments                                                                   
to  Alaskans,  age  65  and older,  based  on  their  incomes                                                                   
related to the federal poverty  level guidelines adjusted for                                                                   
Alaska (FPL-A).  Monthly payments are:                                                                                          
   ·    $250 per month to individuals with income less than                                                                     
        75% of the FPL-A                                                                                                        
   ·    $175 per month to individuals with income from 75%                                                                      
        to less than 100% of the FPL-A                                                                                          
   ·    $125 per month to individuals with income from 100%                                                                     
        to less than 135% of the FPL-A                                                                                          
Initially, it was proposed that  the Alaska Senior Assistance                                                                   
Program  combines features  of both the  Longevity Bonus  and                                                                   
Senior  Care programs  into a  single  needs based  structure                                                                   
that delivers real help to low-income  seniors across Alaska.                                                                   
It will sunset June 30, 2011.                                                                                                   
Representative Hawker  continued, the work draft  renames the                                                                   
program  to the  Alaska  Senior Benefits  Program.   It  also                                                                   
increases  the income  limit for the  Alaska Senior  Benefits                                                                   
Program  to 175%  of  the  federal poverty  level  guidelines                                                                   
adjusted  for Alaska  (FPA-A).   Program  participants  whose                                                                   
income  was  between 100%  and  175%  of that  formula  would                                                                   
receive $125 dollars per month as indicated in Section 8.                                                                       
Representative Hawker  pointed out that the  increased income                                                                   
limit  for Denali  Kid Care to  175% of  the federal  poverty                                                                   
level guidelines indicated in  Section 5 includes a technical                                                                   
change to  correct sunset provisions,  deleted in  Section 13                                                                   
of the original bill & inserting a new Section 17.                                                                              
1:51:44 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Hawker discussed  raising the cash  component                                                                   
level  decision.   Under the  original  Senior Care  Program,                                                                   
there was  both a drug  benefit & cash  component.   The cash                                                                   
component had  a cap  of 135% of  the federal poverty  level,                                                                   
but the  drug benefit provides for  an income level  of up to                                                                   
165% of the FPL-A, intended "to  leave no senior behind"; the                                                                   
work draft proposes raising that level to 175%.                                                                                 
1:52:29 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative   Hawker  thought   that  the  proposed   bill                                                                   
includes  the best  features of  the two  programs and  could                                                                   
deliver  public  health recognition  of  the  plight for  low                                                                   
income seniors.   The  proposed program  will not be  closed,                                                                   
but  rather  open to  everyone  at  age  65 that  resides  in                                                                   
HB 198  recognizes that the  most powerful assistance  to the                                                                   
Alaskan  seniors  is  cash  assistance.   HB  198  is  not  a                                                                   
Medicaid eligible  program; it  will be  taken only  from the                                                                   
General  Fund.    He recognized  that  over  time,  it  could                                                                   
possibly become a Medicaid eligible  program.  He pointed out                                                                   
it would sunset June, 2011.                                                                                                     
1:55:46 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Hawker continued,  the bill identities & fixes                                                                   
the Denali  Kid Care  policy ceiling,  which provides  health                                                                   
insurance to children  and pregnant women.   Previously, that                                                                   
program was established at 175%  of the poverty level ceiling                                                                   
to  participate in  the program.    The concern  is that  the                                                                   
effects of inflation  purchasing power did not  increase.  As                                                                   
a  result, the  Alaska  ceiling for  that  program eroded  to                                                                   
154%.  The Denali  Kid Care is a Medicaid &  federal matching                                                                   
dollar program.   As long as  the Denali Kid Care  Program is                                                                   
kept  above  150%, it  is  Medicaid  eligible &  that  Alaska                                                                   
qualifies for  an enhanced matching  rate, meaning  5% extra.                                                                   
HB 198 identifies  the federal poverty level  and needs based                                                                   
programs.  The  work draft adds clean up language  to address                                                                   
the effective dates, noting the  Denali Kid Care program does                                                                   
not sunset.                                                                                                                     
1:59:42 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Crawford  understood   that  the  legislation                                                                   
would no  longer lock  in the rate  at 175%.   Representative                                                                   
Hawker  stated that  was correct  for both  of the  programs,                                                                   
including Denali Kid Care.                                                                                                      
Representative  Crawford noted  language on  Page 7,  Line 2,                                                                   
referencing  the   household  income  to  not   exceed  135%.                                                                   
Representative  Hawker  countered,   that  concept  had  been                                                                   
addressed on Lines 25-27 of Amendment #1.  (Copy on File).                                                                      
2:01:01 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Gara referenced the  Denali Kid Care  portion                                                                   
of  the  bill,   noting  the  possible  loss   of  a  federal                                                                   
illegibility  match.    He thought  the  difference  for  the                                                                   
federal match  was 70%; if Alaska  does not comply,  it means                                                                   
approximately  a  57%  match, pointing  out  the  significant                                                                   
Representative Gara highlighted  the fiscal difference of the                                                                   
two programs, listing questions  with regard to the inclusion                                                                   
& exclusion of the Longevity Bonus.                                                                                             
Representative Hawker responded  that Alaska will loose if we                                                                   
do  not deal  with the  FPL-A  and Denali  Kid Care.   It  is                                                                   
anticipated  that moving  the  FPL-A of  the Senior  Benefits                                                                   
portion from  135% to 175% results  in a fiscal note  that is                                                                   
approximately $20  million dollars.  There is  difficultly in                                                                   
determining who  could be dually eligible under  the original                                                                   
Longevity  Bonus.   Assuming that  all  the new  participants                                                                   
under the  Senior Benefits  Program were  eligible, it  could                                                                   
mean an  additional $15 million  dollars a year added  to the                                                                   
note.  In reality,  he thought there might  be 1,000 eligible                                                                   
2:06:04 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Gara acknowledged  that  if  the State  falls                                                                   
below the  150% poverty line,  the State could  loose federal                                                                   
eligibility for the  Denali Kid Care program.   He noted that                                                                   
39  other states  provide eligibility  for  their Denali  Kid                                                                   
Care  program at  200% poverty  level; also,  it would  allow                                                                   
other middle  income families  to buy into  the program.   He                                                                   
asked if  buying into health  insurance had been  considered.                                                                   
Representative  Hawker replied it  would be a  program policy                                                                   
change.     HB  198   attempts  to   remedy  the   structural                                                                   
inefficiencies in current statute.   He agreed that expansion                                                                   
of the program  merits consideration but requested  it not be                                                                   
included in  HB 198.  He  commented that during the  next few                                                                   
years,  the  State  is  going  to  be  faced  with  difficult                                                                   
decisions determining whether  to maintain & sustain programs                                                                   
currently  in  place.   Reimbursement  rates  are the  single                                                                   
greatest issue.                                                                                                                 
2:09:11 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Gara  requested  that  Representative  Hawker                                                                   
keep an  open-mind, pointing  out how  small the fiscal  note                                                                   
actually  is to  offer that  option.   Representative  Hawker                                                                   
took the information under advisement.                                                                                          
2:10:15 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Meyer inquired  if any members knew  of other states                                                                   
offering  something  similar  to a  Permanent  Fund  Dividend                                                                   
(PFD).  Representative  Hawker understood that  Alaska is the                                                                   
only State offering such a program.   HB 198 provides for the                                                                   
Denali Kid Care payment and the  Senior Benefit payment, both                                                                   
needs  based programs,  using  federal eligibility  criteria.                                                                   
The  PFD is  not  used  when determining  the  poverty  level                                                                   
amounts; there  is no need  for inclusion of  a hold-harmless                                                                   
Co-Chair Meyer  estimated that  the dividend  could be  up to                                                                   
$2000  in the  near future.    Representative Hawker  agreed,                                                                   
stating that  the PFD is a unique  program & that there  is a                                                                   
sense  it will  be growing;  he reiterated  inclusion of  the                                                                   
sunset  provision,  which  allows  the  Legislature  to  come                                                                   
forward and revisit all the proposed provisions.                                                                                
2:13:18 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Meyer commented  that  because of  the PFD,  Alaska                                                                   
should not  be compared  to other states;  he asked  if other                                                                   
places provide a Senior Care Program.   Representative Hawker                                                                   
did not know how Alaska compares to other places.                                                                               
Co-Chair  Meyer inquired  if 150%  had been  considered as  a                                                                   
match  amount,  noting  that  he  personally  had  encouraged                                                                   
minimum  matching  in  all budgets.    Representative  Hawker                                                                   
thought that could  be a legitimate policy call,  adding that                                                                   
on the Senior Care portion, he  was comfortable with the 175%                                                                   
in the existing policy determination,  now is "on the table".                                                                   
The  prescription drug  benefit  eligibility  should go  away                                                                   
with  the  program, noting  that  it  needs to  be  somewhere                                                                   
between  165%  & 170%  of  the  federal  poverty level.    He                                                                   
preferred the  175% level and  hoped to justify  establishing                                                                   
that level for both seniors and children.                                                                                       
Representative   Hawker  acknowledged   that  House   Finance                                                                   
Committee  (HFC) would  be the  place to  determine a  lesser                                                                   
level, yet thought that the 175%  level gets Alaska closer to                                                                   
the   objective  held   in   the  original   program,   while                                                                   
transitioning  into   a  truly  needs  based   program.    He                                                                   
considered it a better policy direction.                                                                                        
Co-Chair Meyer pointed out that  175% was the number selected                                                                   
four  years ago  without including  an inflation  ratio.   He                                                                   
worried  about  future funding  with  the proposed  raise  in                                                                   
fiscal  costs;  the fiscal  note  was initially  prepared  at                                                                   
135%,   which   is   now   proposed    to   rise   to   175%.                                                                   
Representative Hawker suspected  that the Department's fiscal                                                                   
note has not yet been completed.                                                                                                
2:17:59 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Chenault   addressed  the  difference   in  numbers                                                                   
submitted  by  Representative   Gara.    He  provided  income                                                                   
numbers,  including family  members and  the increases  those                                                                   
bring.  He understood  that insurance costs are  high as well                                                                   
as the costs in raising a family.                                                                                               
Representative Hawker clarified  for the record, what 175% of                                                                   
poverty  level  would  look  like with  real  numbers.    The                                                                   
numbers for an Alaskan adjusted poverty level today:                                                                            
     A single person qualifies at $30,170 dollars a year; a                                                                     
     couple living together would qualify at $40,446 dollars                                                                    
     a year and families grow from there.                                                                                       
Representative Hawker  admitted, it was a stretch  for him to                                                                   
embrace  the 175%  number.  He  questioned  the role of  self                                                                   
responsibility  for those individuals  and what the  State is                                                                   
expected  to  contribute.    He   reiterated  that  175%  was                                                                   
2:21:16 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Gara brought  forward the  idea of  Universal                                                                   
Health Care, commenting  that Alaska "will miss  the boat" by                                                                   
not  leveraging   federal  funds   to  help  provide   health                                                                   
insurance  for all  kids.  He  explained the  process.   Some                                                                   
insurance companies  charge $3 to  $5 thousand dollars  for a                                                                   
policy  for a  child.   Denali Kid  Care is  able to  provide                                                                   
health  insurance  to kids  at  a  State  cost, close  to  $1                                                                   
thousand dollars  per child.   He hoped  to see that  working                                                                   
families  having a  difficult  time buying  insurance in  the                                                                   
market place  have an opportunity  to insure their  children.                                                                   
Six other  states are now  leveraging those federal  dollars.                                                                   
Representative  Gara  asked  to  discuss  compromises,  which                                                                   
could help families to buy in,  helping the middle class.  He                                                                   
stressed that this is not welfare program.                                                                                      
2:24:25 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Meyer commented  that would be a "new  twist" to the                                                                   
issue.  Representative  Kelly acknowledged  problems existing                                                                   
for kid care  and needy seniors.  He disagreed  with Governor                                                                   
Murkowski's deletion  of the Longevity  Bonus, which  at that                                                                   
time, was  on a downward phase  out slope.  He  worried about                                                                   
the upcoming decade  of projected deficits.   He claimed that                                                                   
the  sunset  clause  provides  "zero  comfort",  recommending                                                                   
placing it on the  front end.  He supported  the 150% number,                                                                   
inquiring if  that could protect the "grandfathered  seniors"                                                                   
without building up an entitlement in the future.                                                                               
Representative  Hawker  acknowledged that  mechanically,  the                                                                   
language  could be  modified; however,  he did  not know  the                                                                   
legal  consequence;   he  was  responsive  to   the  proposed                                                                   
Representative  Kelly  questioned  why  the  number  for  the                                                                   
Denali  Kid Care  issue was  not  placed at  a hold  harmless                                                                   
position  by  adding  only the  inflationary  factor  at  the                                                                   
required level.   Representative  Hawker understood  that was                                                                   
what  had happened  and that  the numbers  had been  annually                                                                   
rolled forward.   The consequence  is the State's  ability to                                                                   
sustain that  offer.  He added  that Alaska has  been "living                                                                   
the  luxury  of  windfall  revenues",   while  continuing  to                                                                   
increase funding levels.                                                                                                        
2:33:30 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Kelly recommended  that 150%  be used  as the                                                                   
trigger  point  for both  programs.    He worried  about  the                                                                   
Senate  increasing  any  adjustment.    Representative  Kelly                                                                   
reiterated concerns regarding sustainability.                                                                                   
2:35:36 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Gara  referenced the handout  chart indicating                                                                   
what other  states use  as their  eligibility percentage  for                                                                   
the Denali  Kid Care Program.   (Copy  on File).   He pointed                                                                   
out the $100  million dollars proposed to the  University for                                                                   
a new building in the Capital  Budget & other projects he did                                                                   
not  support.   Those  dollars  could  pay for  the  proposed                                                                   
programs.  He noted there are  only two states, at this time,                                                                   
that provide less coverage than Alaska.                                                                                         
Representative Crawford attempted  to identify how Alaska has                                                                   
gotten   into  the   current   situation.     He   encouraged                                                                   
subsidizing small  business employers to assist  workers with                                                                   
health insurance  costs & concerns.   He believed  that could                                                                   
encourage federal leveraging dollars.                                                                                           
Representative Hawker  did not agree with  previous comments.                                                                   
He thought  such considerations  should be policy  decisions,                                                                   
which bear  "huge weight" in up  coming years of  health care                                                                   
alternatives.   He hoped that the Governor's  Executive Order                                                                   
appointing a  Health Care Council  to evaluate,  consider and                                                                   
report  to the  Legislature with  policies  on those  issues,                                                                   
would be successful.   Meanwhile, HB 198 addresses  the short                                                                   
term  horizon and  contains a  sunset provision  in order  to                                                                   
revisit these issues in the future.                                                                                             
2:41:18 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Crawford agreed,  however, encouraged  that a                                                                   
long  range  consideration  be  debated now  rather  than  as                                                                   
concerns become  insurmountable.   He reiterated  his support                                                                   
for a private health care system model.                                                                                         
2:42:47 PM                                                                                                                    
HERBERT  SIMON,   (TESTIFIED  VIA  TELECONFERENCE),   OFFNET,                                                                   
testified in support  of the legislation.  He  suggested that                                                                   
the State  cannot depend  on continuing  federal funding  and                                                                   
saw the legislation as a compromise.   He maintained that the                                                                   
new  program  is  improved  by  providing  an  allowance  for                                                                   
variables.  He  added that he could not  envision reenactment                                                                   
of an income tax while a senior program exists.                                                                                 
JEANETTE LACY, BARTLETT REGIONAL  HOSPITAL, JUNEAU, testified                                                                   
in support of  the legislation, which represents  good social                                                                   
policy.   She referred  to the  poverty guide line,  pointing                                                                   
out that  100% of that  guide means only  $12,000 a  year for                                                                   
one  person.    Representative  Hawker agreed  that  was  the                                                                   
accurate  number.     [Representative  Hawker   provided  the                                                                   
revised numbers,  copy on  file].  Ms.  Lacy went on  to give                                                                   
additional  information  regarding  the  poverty  guidelines,                                                                   
pointing out  that the formula  was developed in  1963; since                                                                   
that time, it has not been modified.                                                                                            
Ms. Lacy pointed out that a family  of 2 would not be able to                                                                   
make more  than $29  thousand dollars  a year  @ 175%  of the                                                                   
guideline.  Most of the uninsured  are working families.  Ms.                                                                   
Lacy maintained  that using the 175% benchmark  above poverty                                                                   
is  not an  adequate amount  for parents  to purchase  health                                                                   
insurance.   She recommended  that 200%  be the bare  minimum                                                                   
number.  Children  should be the first ones  receiving health                                                                   
2:51:02 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Gara  asked  the   amount  a  private  health                                                                   
insurance policy might  cost for a child.  Ms.  Lacey did not                                                                   
know,  indicating  that  she  pays  $3,000  dollars  annually                                                                   
through the City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ).                                                                                   
2:52:10 PM                                                                                                                    
MARIE DARLIN,  COORDINATOR, CAPITAL  CITY TASK FORCE,  ALASKA                                                                   
ASSOCIATION OF  RETIRED PERSONS (AARP), testified  in support                                                                   
of the  legislation.   She referred to  a letter  provided to                                                                   
the Committee.  (Copy on File.)                                                                                                 
Ms.  Darlin  noted that  AARP  had  opposed deletion  of  the                                                                   
Longevity Bonus  Program.  She  maintained that  its deletion                                                                   
resulted  in a  huge loss  to seniors  throughout the  State.                                                                   
She stated that AARP supports  the Senior Care Program and is                                                                   
in support  of the  new program.   She  pointed out  that the                                                                   
asset  test  in Senior  Care  was  problematic and  spoke  in                                                                   
support of  HB 198  as it does  not include  that test.   She                                                                   
voiced  support for  the higher  percentage  number of  175%,                                                                   
noting the three beneficiaries:                                                                                                 
   ·    Older women, who did not work long or build up                                                                          
   ·    Alaskans that did not have high paying positions;                                                                       
   ·    Rural Alaskans who have not worked or been covered                                                                      
        by any insurance.                                                                                                       
Ms. Darlin expressed concern that  services be made available                                                                   
and spoke in  support of programs that keep  seniors in their                                                                   
homes.  She urged passage of HB 198.                                                                                            
2:58:54 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Kelly questioned if  AARP would support  175%                                                                   
now, anticipating  a reduction to  150% in five years  due to                                                                   
the Public  Employees  Retirement System/Teachers  Retirement                                                                   
System (PERS/TRS)  concerns.  Ms. Darlin declined  to answer,                                                                   
emphasizing that AARP will work  for a solution and are aware                                                                   
of the problems.                                                                                                                
3:00:08 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Gara referenced  the "Keep the Seniors at Home                                                                   
Proposal", pointing  out the success and spoke  in support of                                                                   
the personal care attendance program.                                                                                           
3:01:02 PM                                                                                                                    
In response  to a question  by Co-Chair Chenault,  Ms. Darlin                                                                   
observed that the  basic cost for three years  in the Pioneer                                                                   
Home is  approximately $250,000 dollars.    Most  people that                                                                   
go into some kind  of a facility are usually  there for about                                                                   
three years.                                                                                                                    
3:02:01 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Crawford   opined  that  he  hoped   to  work                                                                   
diligently to find more options for the seniors.                                                                                
3:03:36 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Meyer  questioned  if other  states  have  programs                                                                   
similar  to the  Senior Care  Program.   [The Department  was                                                                   
unable to answer.]                                                                                                              
Representative  Gara asked for  a fiscal  analysis of  a two-                                                                   
tiered  senior bonus plan,  questioning  the addition  of the                                                                   
Longevity Bonus.                                                                                                                
KARLEEN  JACKSON,  COMMISSIONER,  DEPARTMENT  OF  HEALTH  AND                                                                   
SOCIAL   SERVICES,   agreed    to   provide   the   requested                                                                   
Representative   Gara  asked   the   fiscal  differences   of                                                                   
transiting  from  the  current  Denali Kid  Care  Program  to                                                                   
Universal coverage.                                                                                                             
JANET  CLARKE, ASSISTANT  COMMISSIONER,  DIVISION OF  FINANCE                                                                   
AND  MANAGEMENT SERVICES,  DEPARTMENT  OF  HEALTH AND  SOCIAL                                                                   
SERVICES, clarified  that the  total General Fund  cost would                                                                   
be approximately $6 million dollars,  adding that there would                                                                   
be co-pays  and premiums  & the  federal share.   She  stated                                                                   
that the change from the current  program to the one proposed                                                                   
by HB  198 would  be $1.3  million dollars  for half  a year,                                                                   
with  $600,000 in  General  Funds, adding  1,500  individuals                                                                   
(pregnant women and children.)                                                                                                  
Representative Gara pointed out  that Representative Hawker's                                                                   
proposal, from current law going  to 175% would, on an annual                                                                   
basis add  approximately  $1.2 million  dollars.  Ms.  Clarke                                                                   
estimated for FY09, $1.3 million dollars.                                                                                       
Representative  Gara asked if  for that  period of  time, the                                                                   
General  Fund  cost  for  the  Universal  coverage  would  be                                                                   
approximately $6 million dollars.  Ms. Clarke agreed.                                                                           
3:08:02 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Meyer observed that the  State of North Dakota is at                                                                   
140%, asking  if they received  a federal match.   Ms. Clarke                                                                   
could not speak  to North Dakota's program,  reiterating that                                                                   
a drop below  150% of poverty,  results in a loss  of federal                                                                   
Co-Chair   Meyer  questioned   if   the   Department  had   a                                                                   
recommendation.   Commissioner  Jackson  acknowledged it  was                                                                   
the work of  the Committee to determine the  percentage.  She                                                                   
stressed the desire  to continue the Senior  Care Program, or                                                                   
something like it.   She added that more money  spent upfront                                                                   
on children results  in savings in the future;  she would not                                                                   
speak to the proper split.                                                                                                      
3:10:37 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Thomas requested  more information on programs                                                                   
offered by other states.                                                                                                        
Representative Kelly spoke to  the current cost of the Senior                                                                   
Care  program; he  noted that  it is  being used  at a  lower                                                                   
level  due  to  prescription   drug  programs.    Ms.  Clarke                                                                   
clarified that  amount is approximately $10  million dollars.                                                                   
Representative Kelly concluded  that full use of all programs                                                                   
would cost around $30 million  dollars.  Ms. Clarke responded                                                                   
that the request was $33.7 million  dollars.   Representative                                                                   
Kelly worried about doubling the cost of the program.                                                                           
3:13:17 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Gara asked for  a chart indicating the poverty                                                                   
line for those  living in Alaska as compared  to those living                                                                   
in the lower 48 states.                                                                                                         
ELLIE FITZJARRALD,  DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF  PUBLIC ASSISTANCE,                                                                   
DEPARTMENT  OF HEALTH  AND  SOCIAL SERVICES,  clarified  that                                                                   
there  is  a 25%  difference  in  the poverty  level  between                                                                   
Alaska and other states.  Representative  Gara suggested that                                                                   
the  difference would  result in  a "wash"  when taking  into                                                                   
consideration the Longevity Bonus and the PFD programs.                                                                         
3:14:37 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Hawker  MOVED to ADOPT Amendment  1.  Co-Chair                                                                   
Meyer OBJECTED.                                                                                                                 
AMENDMENT 1                                                                                                                   
     Page 4, lines 30 through 31:                                                                                               
     Delete all material                                                                                                        
     Insert:  "poverty line  applicable to  a family  of that                                                                   
     size  according  to  the  United  States  Department  of                                                                 
     Health and Human Services  [FEDERAL OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT                                                                 
     AND BUDGET], and who, but  for earnings in excess of the                                                                   
     limit established"                                                                                                         
     Page 6, lines 1 through 11:                                                                                                
     Delete all material                                                                                                        
     Insert:  "whose  household income  does  not exceed  175                                                                 
     percent of  the federal poverty guideline  as defined by                                                                 
     the  United  States  Department   of  Health  and  Human                                                                 
     Services and revised under 42 U.S.C. 9902(2)                                                                             
        (A) $2,208 A MONTH  IF THE HOUSEHOLD CONSISTS  OF TWO                                                                   
        (B) $2,782  A  MONTH  IF THE  HOUSEHOLD  CONSISTS  OF                                                                   
           THREE PERSONS;                                                                                                       
        (C) $3,355 A MONTH IF THE HOUSEHOLD  CONSISTS OF FOUR                                                                   
        (D) $3,928 A MONTH IF THE HOUSEHOLD  CONSISTS OF FIVE                                                                   
        (E) $4,501 A MONTH  IF THE HOUSEHOLD CONSISTS  OF SIX                                                                   
        (F) $5,074  A  MONTH  IF THE  HOUSEHOLD  CONSISTS  OF                                                                   
           SEVEN PERSONS;                                                                                                       
        (G) $5,647  A  MONTH  IF THE  HOUSEHOLD  CONSISTS  OF                                                                   
           EIGHT PERSONS;                                                                                                       
        (H) $5,647 A MONTH,  PLUS AN ADDITIONAL $574  A MONTH                                                                   
           FOR EACH EXTRA PERSON ABOVE EIGHT PERSONS WHO IS                                                                     
           IN THE HOUSEHOLD IF THE HOUSEHOLD CONSISTS OF                                                                        
           NINE PERSONS OR MORE;"                                                                                               
   Page 7, line 2, following "exceed":                                                                                          
     Delete "135"                                                                                                               
     Insert "175"                                                                                                               
Representative Hawker  explained that the  amendment corrects                                                                   
existing statutory  language reference  to the United  States                                                                   
(U.S.)  Department  of  Health   and  Human  Services.    The                                                                   
amendment  also  raises  the level  for  pregnant  women  and                                                                   
corrects the number  from 135% to 175%.  Additionally,  it is                                                                   
a correction from  135% to 175%, whenever appropriate  in the                                                                   
Representative  Gara  questioned   if  Representative  Hawker                                                                   
would support  the addition  of Universal  Care, noting  that                                                                   
costs  would  increase  from  $1.3  to  $6  million  dollars.                                                                   
Representative  Hawker  said he  would  prefer  to limit  the                                                                   
legislation, as it is and addressing only current statute.                                                                      
Co-Chair  Meyer  WITHDREW  his  OBJECTION.   There  being  NO                                                                   
further OBJECTION, Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                                     
3:19:40 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Gara   MOVED  to  ADOPT  Amendment   2,  #25-                                                                   
LS0714\A.2,   Mischel,   4/2/07.      Representative   Hawker                                                                   
Representative  Gara stated  that Amendment  2 would  correct                                                                   
the statutory concerns with the  eligibility of the Longevity                                                                   
Bonus.   That would leave the  Senior Care Program  for those                                                                   
people that do not qualify for the Longevity Bonus Program.                                                                     
Representative Kelly asked if  seniors were given the choice,                                                                   
wouldn't    they   all    select    the   Longevity    Bonus.                                                                   
Representative  Gara thought  that  some  would receive  more                                                                   
under  the Senior  Care Program.   The  applicant would  make                                                                   
that decision, not creating a $49 million dollar overlap.                                                                       
Representative  Hawker   advised  that  the   Department  has                                                                   
indicated that  the restoration of the Longevity  Bonus would                                                                   
be  approximately  $33.7  million   dollars.    He  addressed                                                                   
Amendment 2.  The Longevity Bonus  does not consider any need                                                                   
of the individual.   He thought that it would  benefit 13,000                                                                   
Alaskans  without   regard  to   their  income  level.     He                                                                   
reiterated the State's obligation  to determine benefits, for                                                                   
the most  needy.  He wanted  to seek the "moral  high-ground"                                                                   
when determining  terms and conditions, while  not giving the                                                                   
State's wealth to the rich.                                                                                                     
3:27:43 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Crawford supported  the Senior Care  Program,                                                                   
however,  he  did not  want  to  repeal the  Longevity  Bonus                                                                   
program.  The  amendment reinstates the Longevity  Bonus.  He                                                                   
recommended removing  references to  the Longevity  Bonus and                                                                   
asked if  that would  be considered  a "friendly  amendment".                                                                   
Representative Gara  did not realize that there  was a repeal                                                                   
of the Longevity Bonus throughout the bill.                                                                                     
Representative  Hawker acknowledged that  there is,  which is                                                                   
identified  in   the  sectional   analysis  in  Section   15.                                                                   
Representative Gara  was surprised.   The repeal gets  rid of                                                                   
the Longevity  Bonus &  by getting rid  of the repeal,  there                                                                   
would be a Longevity  Bonus that would be unenforceable.   He                                                                   
would not consider that a friendly amendment.                                                                                   
Representative  Hawker reiterated  that the  deletion of  the                                                                   
Longevity Bonus is stated clearly in the title of the bill.                                                                     
3:31:59 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Gara noted the  reference to the fact that the                                                                   
Longevity Bonus plan helps wealthy  seniors.  The Senior Care                                                                   
Plan   only   protects   the   most   impoverished   seniors,                                                                   
individuals who earn  $22 thousand dollars a  year.  Assuming                                                                   
the  costs of  rent [Pioneer  Home  @ $2300/month],  medical,                                                                   
transportation,  needs more than  175% of the  poverty level.                                                                   
The  program  gives   money  to  those  that   are  the  most                                                                   
impoverished.   He emphasized that  the amount of  money left                                                                   
on the table for  the oil industry last year  could cover the                                                                   
deficit.   People on  the Longevity Bonus  roll are  going to                                                                   
decrease.   He  recommended that  the State  could do  better                                                                   
than helping  only the most  impoverished, pointing  out that                                                                   
the fiscal  notes would not  be out  of line if  seniors were                                                                   
given the choice of one or the other option, not both.                                                                          
A roll call vote was taken on the motion.                                                                                       
IN FAVOR:      Gara, Crawford                                                                                                   
OPPOSED:       Hawker, Joule, Kelly, Thomas, Chenault, Meyer                                                                    
Representatives Foster,  Nelson and Stoltze were  not present                                                                   
for the vote.                                                                                                                   
The MOTION FAILED (2-6).                                                                                                        
HB 198 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects