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Keller to Launch Review of National Healthcare Impact

House Health & Social Services Co-Chair gravely concerneds

March 23, 2010 - (Juneau) - The House Health & Social Services Committee will hold a meeting to examine the impact of recently enacted federal healthcare legislation on Alaska. The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, March 30 at 11:45 a.m. in the Fahrenkamp and Butrovich Committee Rooms, Capitol Rooms 203 and 205.

Co-Chair Rep. Wes Keller, R-Wasilla, began circulating a letter this week amongst members of the legislature concerning the enactment of national healthcare reform. The President signed the bill today. The letter, addressed to the governor, urges initiating a discussion on the bill and what effects the new law will have on state programs. Keller and other signers wrote "the Act has immediate ramifications on bills and policy currently under consideration in the legislature," including Denali KidCare, Medicaid reimbursement rates and waivers, health insurance mandates, the future of the Alaska Healthcare Commission, workforce development, trauma care and mental health coverage.

Keller says he doesn't plan on leaving the issue untouched. As H&SS Co-Chair, Keller says he must consider legislation regarding these agencies that his committee oversees. "I am very concerned that we have a stack of legislation that may be meaningless in light of this language imposed from Washington, D.C.," Keller said. "It will take time and information to sort this out. The spending and revenue forecasts on which we have been basing policy decisions have drastically changed and we have yet to understand the impacts. We have no choice but to get started.

"It is ironic that 143 years ago, almost to the day of Seward's Day, we remember the beginnings of federal government control over Alaska," Keller said. "This healthcare reform seems to be part of a progressive decline of state sovereignty."

Members of the Department of Health & Social Services, the Department of Law, the Department of Administration, and Legislative Legal Services are expected to provide testimony. Testimony will be by invitation only.

A teleconference has been set up through the Legislative Bridge Teleconference Center for any interested Alaskans and reporters who are unable to attend in person. The teleconference will be listen-only.

WHO: House Health & Social Services Committee WHAT: Federal Healthcare Reform Impacts Discussion WHEN: Tuesday, March 30, 11:45 a.m. WHERE: Capitol Fahrenkamp/Butrovich Rooms 203 & 205
State Capitol - Juneau
Teleconference call-in number: 1-877-763-5073.

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