Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 120

03/11/2010 01:00 PM JUDICIARY


Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Meeting Postponed to 1:30 pm Today --
+ HB 287 UNIFORM ACT: PROPERTY INTEREST DISCLAIMER TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
+ HJR 35 CONST AM: HEALTH CARE TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
+ HB 289 EXEC ETHICS: LEGAL FEES/FAMILY TRAVEL TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 355 CRIMINAL FINES FOR ORGANIZATIONS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
                 HJR 35 - CONST AM: HEALTH CARE                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:48:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  JOINT  RESOLUTION  NO. 35,  Proposing  amendments  to  the                                                               
Constitution of the  State of Alaska prohibiting  passage of laws                                                               
that interfere with direct payments  for health care services and                                                               
the  right to  purchase health  care insurance  from a  privately                                                               
owned  company, and  that compel  a  person to  participate in  a                                                               
health care system.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:48:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE KELLY, Alaska  State Legislature, speaking as                                                               
one  of the  joint  prime sponsors,  indicated that  HJR  35 -  a                                                               
resolution   proposing    amendments   to   the    Alaska   State                                                               
Constitution -  is in  response to  proposed federal  healthcare-                                                               
reform  legislation, which  is  meant to  address  the issues  of                                                               
access, affordability,  and quality.  However,  he remarked, many                                                               
people  are  unsure that  the  federal  legislation is  going  to                                                               
adequately  address  those  issues.   [Should  HJR  35  pass  the                                                               
legislature  and be  adopted by  the voters  at the  next general                                                               
elections,  it would  change the  Alaska State  Constitution such                                                               
that]  it would  preclude the  passage of  laws that  prohibit or                                                               
penalize  direct payment  for healthcare  services, or  laws that                                                               
prohibit or  penalize the purchasing of  healthcare insurance, or                                                               
laws that  compel one to  participate in a healthcare  system, or                                                               
laws  that  penalize  one  for   refusing  to  participate  in  a                                                               
healthcare system.   He acknowledged  that passage of HJR  35 and                                                               
ratification  by the  voters of  its provisions  into the  Alaska                                                               
State   Constitution   could   create   a   conflict   with   the                                                               
aforementioned federal  legislation should it  pass as well.   He                                                               
offered  his  understanding, though,  that  35  other states  are                                                               
considering legislation similar to HJR 35.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES relayed  that one of the  main concerns she                                                               
has with  HJR 35 is that  it could have severe,  negative impacts                                                               
on  any proposed  changes to  existing federal  programs such  as                                                               
Medicare,  and those  addressing Veterans  Affairs (VA)  benefits                                                               
and the issue of tribal health.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KELLY indicated  that that might be  the case, but                                                               
surmised  that  others  could  better address  that  issue.    In                                                               
response to  a question regarding  the resolution's  fiscal note,                                                               
he indicated that he would research its analysis further.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:56:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PEGGYANN McCONNOCHIE relayed  that she and her  husband own three                                                               
small businesses,  two of which  have employees, and  offered her                                                               
belief that  the aforementioned  federal legislation is  going to                                                               
result in two of her businesses  going out of business, and won't                                                               
necessarily resolve  the problems  it is meant  to address.   She                                                               
added  that  a system  similar  to  that  being proposed  by  the                                                               
federal government is already in  place in New Zealand, where her                                                               
husband  is  from,  and  opined   that  it  doesn't  work  there,                                                               
particularly with  regard to  pre-existing conditions.   Alaskans                                                               
should come up with their own  solution to the problems of access                                                               
to healthcare and  its costs, she opined, and  predicted that the                                                               
proposed  federal legislation  is  going  to impose  unreasonable                                                               
burdens  on  Alaskans  and  their  businesses,  especially  small                                                               
business like  those she and  her husband own.   She said  she is                                                               
excited about the possibility of getting  a chance to vote on the                                                               
proposed changes to the Alaska  State Constitution as embodied in                                                               
HJR  35.   She surmised  that the  ratification of  those changes                                                               
would protect small  business from being taxed  for not providing                                                               
healthcare insurance.  In conclusion,  she urged the committee to                                                               
pass HJR 35.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES asked Ms.  McConnochie whether she would be                                                               
concerned if passage  of HJR 35's proposed changes  to the Alaska                                                               
State  Constitution resulted  in  it becoming  difficult to  make                                                               
future changes to certain existing federal programs.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. McCONNOCHIE,  citing her  nescience regarding  such programs,                                                               
declined to  venture an  opinion, but  noted that  small business                                                               
owners already face increasing taxes and costs.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:00:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANDREA   DOLL,   Director,   Legislative   Information   Standing                                                               
Committee, Retired  Public Employees of Alaska  (RPEA), remarking                                                               
that the prospect of a  national public health plan being imposed                                                               
on  individuals  has  made  people  either  very  happy  or  very                                                               
fearful, explained that the RPEA feels  that HJR 35 is an example                                                               
of  an  exaggerated  response   to  the  aforementioned  proposed                                                               
federal  healthcare-reform  legislation.     Because  HJR  35  is                                                               
proposing to amend  the Alaska State Constitution,  it has raised                                                               
concern among  many RPEA members  that voter ratification  of its                                                               
proposed  changes  would tie  the  hands  of current  and  future                                                               
legislators and  thereby preclude  them from  addressing Alaska's                                                               
healthcare  issues,  and  from  considering  the  full  array  of                                                               
options currently  available.  This  is a  shortsighted approach,                                                               
particularly  given  that no  one  yet  knows what  the  proposed                                                               
federal legislation will ultimately entail.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. DOLL  said that although  keeping the federal  government out                                                               
of the [business  of] healthcare might be  a political philosophy                                                               
that appeals to  a significant sector of the  population, to take                                                               
steps  to amend  the  Alaska State  Constitution  is drastic  and                                                               
potentially  harmful.    The  RPEA,   therefore,  is  asking  the                                                               
committee to  reconsider such an  approach, and to defeat  HJR 35                                                               
as currently written.  In  response to a question, she reiterated                                                               
that what's of concern to the  RPEA is that voter ratification of                                                               
HJR 35's proposed changes to  the Alaska State Constitution would                                                               
close off legislators' future options.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES,  characterizing HJR  35  as  a bit  of  a                                                               
kneejerk  reaction  to  the  proposed  federal  healthcare-reform                                                               
legislation, reiterated  her concern  that voter  ratification of                                                               
HJR 35's proposed changes to  the Alaska State Constitution could                                                               
have severe, negative  impacts on any future  changes to existing                                                               
federal programs,  such as  the Medicare  system, which,  as many                                                               
could agree, needs changing.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  DOLL concurred,  reiterated  some of  her previous  remarks,                                                               
predicted that passage  of HJR 35 would  engender litigation, and                                                               
pointed out that such litigation wouldn't solve anything.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:09:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PATRICK LUBY, Advocacy Director, AARP  Alaska, said that the AARP                                                               
Alaska is  opposed to  HJR 35,  and feels  that the  Alaska State                                                               
Constitution  shouldn't  be  amended   except  for  very  serious                                                               
reasons.   The  problems that  HJR 35  purports to  address don't                                                               
actually exist yet  and may never exist, since no  one knows what                                                               
Congress will  do, and the  AARP Alaska feels that  Alaska should                                                               
keep  its options  open, especially  with regard  to an  issue as                                                               
serious as healthcare.  He added:                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Although Alaska does  not have managed care  in the HMO                                                                    
     model using capitated cost, we  do have new models that                                                                    
     do  managed care.   Healthcare  now and  in the  future                                                                    
     will be all about  networks and coordinated delivery of                                                                    
     services;  pay for  performance, paying  physicians and                                                                    
     hospitals  for more  quality care,  medical homes,  not                                                                    
     paying  providers for  what's  referred  to as  "never-                                                                    
     events" - which Medicare is  already doing and is being                                                                    
     picked  up   as  a  model   by  Medicaid   and  private                                                                    
     insurers - ... will only increase  in the future.  Cost                                                                    
     containment  is   going  to   be  the  main   focus  of                                                                    
     healthcare debate  in the future.   In Alaska,  we must                                                                    
     do  something  about  the  uninsured.    Currently,  17                                                                    
     percent of Alaskans between the  ages of 50 and 64 have                                                                    
     no insurance at  all.  When they  need healthcare, they                                                                    
     often  ended  up  in  the emergency  room  -  the  most                                                                    
     expensive place  to get it.   They also  usually cannot                                                                    
     pay their bill.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Those of  us that do  have insurance end up  picking up                                                                    
     their  tab.   The  average cost  of  the uninsured  for                                                                    
     every Alaskan  family is  $1,900 annually.   Employers,                                                                    
     including the  State of Alaska,  also pick of  the cost                                                                    
     of  those  employers who  do  not  provide coverage  to                                                                    
     their employees.   [The] AARP  wants to make  sure that                                                                    
     all of  us participate  in healthcare coverage  so that                                                                    
     we   can  end   this  cost-shifting.     [House   Joint                                                                    
     Resolution 35]  ... would  allow people  to opt  out of                                                                    
     coverage.   The rest  of us would  still be  stuck with                                                                    
     their bills.   We look to our  legislators [to] provide                                                                    
     solutions  to problems.   Why  close  down this  option                                                                    
     that might  be very  helpful to  Alaska in  the future?                                                                    
     We recommend a "nay" vote on HJR 35.  Thank you.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. LUBY, in response to  questions, relayed that the AARP Alaska                                                               
thinks that  requiring some type  of coverage -  wherein everyone                                                               
participates and no  one has to pick up someone  else's bill - is                                                               
the sensible  approach to  take; that when  something is  done at                                                               
the  national level,  people would  be able  to either  join some                                                               
type of  [insurance] pool or  enter into some type  exchange; and                                                               
that  if one  doesn't pay  for one's  own health  insurance -  or                                                               
one's  employer doesn't  - there  would  be penalties,  penalties                                                               
which  would serve  as an  incentive  to get  people to  actually                                                               
purchase the coverage,  to make sure that everyone  has some type                                                               
of basic coverage.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:14:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVE ROLAND,  Policy Analyst,  Show-Me Institute,  mentioned that                                                               
he's provided  members' with his  written testimony, and  that he                                                               
has  a background  in constitutional  law.   With  regard to  the                                                               
question of whether  legislation such as HJR 35  is premature, he                                                               
opined that  now is the  time to  take action, and  surmised that                                                               
passage of HJR  35 would give Alaskans the  opportunity to decide                                                               
for  themselves whether  they think  that their  right to  decide                                                               
whether  or  not  to  purchase  healthcare  insurance  should  be                                                               
constitutionally  protected.   He  also offered  his belief  that                                                               
although  under the  Supremacy Clause  of the  U.S. Constitution,                                                               
federal law preempts  state law, there is reason  to believe that                                                               
with regard  to the  issue of  mandated healthcare  insurance, if                                                               
the voters ratify HJR 35's  proposed constitutional changes and a                                                               
legal conflict  then arises, the  courts might instead  rule that                                                               
the Alaska State Constitution preempts federal statute.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:20:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHRISTIE  HERRERA,  Director,  Health  and  Human  Services  Task                                                               
Force,  American  Legislative  Exchange Council  (ALEC),  relayed                                                               
that the ALEC applauds HJR 35  - which is modeled after "our own,                                                               
'freedom of  choice in healthcare Act,'  now in ... 38  states" -                                                               
because the  ALEC believes that  it will ensure  continued access                                                               
to  health services;  that  when  government controls  healthcare                                                               
dollars, it  makes treatment decisions  based on what's  best for                                                               
government;  and that  patients, not  bureaucrats, should  decide                                                               
what's best for patients.  The  ALEC also applauds HJR 35 because                                                               
the ALEC  believes that the  resolution would stop  mandates that                                                               
just don't work.   She indicated that although  the ALEC believes                                                               
it's important for  people to have health  insurance coverage, it                                                               
also believes that a government  requirement to purchase it would                                                               
be  ineffective,  bureaucratic,  and  costly.   For  example,  in                                                               
Massachusetts,  which   has  mandated  the  purchase   of  health                                                               
insurance since  2006, such insurance  cost 40 percent  more than                                                               
in the  rest of  the country],  a third  of the  population still                                                               
doesn't have coverage,  it's harder for the  newly-insured to see                                                               
a physician,  emergency room usage  has increased by  17 percent,                                                               
and legislators expect a $2  billion to $4 billion shortfall over                                                               
the next decade.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HERRERA relayed  that the  ALEC  also believes  that HJR  35                                                               
would help  Alaskans shield themselves from  the proposed federal                                                               
healthcare-reform legislation, and from any  attempt by the State                                                               
of Alaska to  prohibit direct payment for medical  care, and that                                                               
it would  result in a federalism  clash if Congress passes  a law                                                               
that  either forces  people to  purchase  insurance or  prohibits                                                               
direct  payments.     On  the  latter  point,   she  offered  her                                                               
understanding that  the U.S. Supreme  Court has already  ruled in                                                               
favor  of  the states  when  they  take  steps to  protect  their                                                               
citizens'  freedoms.    She  then offered  her  belief  that  the                                                               
problem  of  people  seeking medical  services  but  refusing  to                                                               
purchase health insurance is going  to exist anyway regardless of                                                               
whether  HJR 35  passes and  its proposed  changes to  the Alaska                                                               
State Constitution are then ratified  by the voters; "even if ...                                                               
a mandate did  solve the 'free-rider' problem, we  would still be                                                               
forced to  pay for the  newly-insured with subsidies  to purchase                                                               
the   required   insurance,"   she   added,   and   offered   her                                                               
understanding  of what  the provisions  of  the proposed  federal                                                               
healthcare-reform  legislation might  entail and  how they  might                                                               
affect a low-income family of four.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. HERRERA offered  her belief that HJR 35  won't affect federal                                                               
programs - such  as Medicare and Medicaid - or  that it would tie                                                               
the hands of legislators thereby  preventing them from addressing                                                               
possible  changes  to  such  federal   programs.    Instead,  she                                                               
ventured, HJR 35 would ensure  that the cornerstone of any future                                                               
reforms is  the preservation  of patients'  rights.   She offered                                                               
her understanding  that a study  performed by the  Cato Institute                                                               
estimates   that    the   proposed    federal   healthcare-reform                                                               
legislation  would require  more  than 100  million Americans  to                                                               
drop  their existing  coverage and  buy  more expensive  coverage                                                               
that they  may not want  or need.   She concluded  by reiterating                                                               
that the ALEC applauds HJR 35.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:24:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  RAMRAS, after  ascertaining  that no  one  else wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HJR 35.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 2:24 p.m. to 2:26 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM moved to report  HJR 35 out of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.   There being no objection,  HJR 35 was reported  from the                                                               
House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01 HB287 Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 287
02 HB287 ver R.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 287
03 HB287 Sectional Analisys.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 287
04 HB287 Fiscal Note-LAW-CIV-02-26-10.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 287
05 HB287 Supporting Documents-Shaftel 11-30-09.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 287
06 HB287 Supporting Documents States of Adoption.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 287
07 HB287 Supporting Documents LaPiana Article.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 287
01 HJR35 Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
02 HJR35 Bill v. R.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
03 HJR35 Sectional.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
04 HJR35-OOG-DOE-2-9-10.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
05 HJR35 Answer to HSS Questions 2.9.10.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
06 HJR35 Goldwater Institute Q-A.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
07 HJR35 ALEC's Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
08 HJR35 Governor's letter 1.13.10.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
09 HJR35 Parnell letter 1.13.10.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
10 HJR35 Testimony of Dave Roland.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
11 HJR35 HealthCareReformLetter_Jan13-2010.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
01 HB289 Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 289
12 HJR35 NFIB Ltr.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
02 HB289 Bill HSSCS v. T.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 289
03 HB289 Sectional.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 289
04 HB289-GOV-EO-02-19-10.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 289
05 HB289 Bill v. S.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 289
06 HB289 Proposed Reg changes.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 289
07 HB289 Legal opinion 2.12.10.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 289
12 HB327-LAW-CRIM-03-08-10.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 327
13 HB327 Controlled Substance Chart.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 327
14 HB327 Leg Research re Salvia laws.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 327
15 HB327 APOA Support letter.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 327
16 HB327 NACDS Testimony.pdf HJUD 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 327