Legislature(2003 - 2004)

2003-03-05 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

2003-03-05                     House Journal                      Page 0446
HB 172                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 172 by the House Rules Committee by request of                                       
the Governor, entitled:                                                                             
     "An Act relating to eligibility requirements for medical assistance                            
     for certain children, pregnant women, and persons in a medical or                              
      intermediate care facility; and providing for an effective date."                            
was read the first time and referred to the Health, Education & Social                              
Services and Finance Committees.                                                                    
The following fiscal note(s) apply:                                                                 
1.  Fiscal, Dept. of Health & Social Services                                                       
The Governor's transmittal letter dated March 5, 2003, follows:                                     
"Dear Speaker Kott:                                                                                 
Under the authority of article III, section 18, of the Alaska                                       
Constitution, I am transmitting a bill to "freeze" income levels for                                
eligibility for Denali KidCare and for Medicaid under the special                                   
income limit for nursing homes and home and community based                                         
waiver services.                                                                                    
Under current law, income standards for these eligibility categories                                
increase every year by the amount of cost-of-living adjustments to the                              

2003-03-05                     House Journal                      Page 0447
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program or the federal poverty                                   
guidelines.  This bill will eliminate these annual cost-of-living                                   
adjustments and put in statute fixed dollar income levels for these                                 
programs based on the SSI standard that became effective on                                         
January 1, 2003 or the federal poverty guideline for Alaska that                                    
became effective on April 1, 2002.                                                                  
The next cost-of-living adjustment for Denali KidCare is scheduled to                               
become effective on April 1, 2003.  Therefore upon the July 1, 2003                                 
effective date of this bill eligibility levels will be rolled-back by the                           
1.4% cost-of-living allowance implemented on April 1, 2003.  For                                    
example, income eligibility for a family of three with children on                                  
Denali KidCare will decrease from $3,179 per month to $3,130 per                                    
month on July 1, 2003.                                                                              
The number of persons who lose eligibility on July 1, 2003 by virtue                                
of this provision cannot be estimated with precision; but should be                                 
very small.  For example pregnant women who establish eligibility                                   
between April 1, 2003 and June 30, 2003 will remain eligible for nine                               
months notwithstanding the passage of this legislation.                                             
While the cost savings associated with this bill are modest in the short-                           
term; this measure will significantly reduce future year costs.  In this                            
time of fiscal austerity, I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate                           
balance between maintaining health care coverage for lower income                                   
Alaskans while also addressing our need for fiscal restraint.                                       
I urge your prompt and favorable action on this measure.                                            
                                 Frank H. Murkowski