House goes along with Senate plan to cut Denali KidCare

Posted: Thursday, May 08, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) The state House decided Wednesday night to go along with a Senate plan to reduce the number of people eligible for state health care through Denali KidCare.

Senate Bill 105 would roll back the income limits that decide whether a family is eligible for the program.

The current income limit is 200 percent of the federal poverty level for Alaska. That amounts to $45,264 for a family of four. Alaska Permanent Fund dividends are not counted as income in the formula.

The Senate bill would drop the income limits to 175 percent of poverty or $40,260 for a family of four. The bill would then freeze the new limits in place, so they would not rise with inflation.

Estimates are that the change would save almost $2.2 million in state funds in the 2004 fiscal year and $7.1 million by 2009. About 1,345 people could lose coverage next year and 2,269 could lose coverage by 2009.

The House earlier this week voted for a version of the bill that would have kept the 200 percent of poverty standard, but freeze it at that level, so fewer people would qualify over time. Gov. Frank Murkowski's administration had made that proposal.

But when the Senate declined to go along with the House version of the bill, the House opted Wednesday night not to settle the differences between the two bills in a conference committee.

Instead, the House agreed to accept the Senate bill, so that version will go to the governor, who will decide whether to sign or veto it.

The vote to accept the Senate version was 23-12.

Republicans Cheryll Heinze of Anchorage, Beverly Masek of Willow, Carl Morgan of Aniak and Peggy Wilson of Wrangell joined minority Democrats in voting against the Senate version.

Democrats Eric Croft, Reggie Joule, Mary Kapsner and Carl Moses and Republican Bruce Weyhrauch were absent for the vote.

Denali KidCare, which provides health care for pregnant women and children, generally is restricted to families that do not have access to insurance through their jobs.



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