Last week, Alaska Governor Bill Walker announced that he will bypass the legislative process and implement Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion by executive fiat.
Walker’s announcement should be no surprise to Obamacare proponents – after all, President Obama has maltreated his executive authority dozens of times to amend his signature law. But expansion may come as a shock to Alaska’s legislative leadership, who last month brokered an informal arrangement with the governor to put Medicaid expansion on hold until 2016.
The press conference Walker held last week was heavy on promises, but light on specifics. To hear the Walker administration tell it, Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion would be an economic elixir for a state budget hit hard by declining oil prices. It would help failing hospitals become whole again, a sentiment echoed by the long line of high-paid Alaska hospital CEOs brought in to praise the decision.
But Bill Walker is no magician and Medicaid expansion is far from magic.