Legislature(2003 - 2004)

2003-03-06 Senate Journal

Full Journal pdf

2003-03-06                     Senate Journal                      Page 0389
SB 105                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 105 BY THE SENATE 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 and Social                            
Services  and Finance Committees.                                                                   
The following fiscal information was published today:                                               
 Fiscal Note No. 1, Department of Health and Social Services                                        
Governor's transmittal letter dated March 5:                                                        
Dear President Therriault:                                                                          
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 Kid Care 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                              
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program or  the federal poverty                                  
guidelines. This bill will eliminate these annual cost-of-living                                    

2003-03-06                     Senate Journal                      Page 0390
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 Kid Care 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