Gov. Sean Parnell’s administration has for six months declined to make public a report that the state paid for to analyze the effect Medicaid expansion would have on the state. The Department of Health and Social Services paid $80,000 to the Lewin Group, a consulting firm based in Virginia, to write the report. It’s been completed since April, but DHSS won’t release the report until the agency analyzes it.
Alaska state Sen. Bill Wielechowski recently requested the report from DHSS. He was denied. He’s appealing that decision. If he doesn’t receive it, he’ll take it to court, he said.
Wielechowski was told that the report will be made public “once DHSS has completed its analysis and submitted its recommendations to the governor.” Others, including this reporter, have requested the report and have received the same response.
Parnell has not made clear whether or not he would accept funding from the federal government in order to expand Medicaid, a state program that pitches in for health insurance for low income Alaskans and that receives matching federal funds. The report, presumably, will have some impact on Parnell’s decision.
As part of the Affordable Care Act, the federal government has offered up to 90 percent of the money to expand the program. The Lewin Group has completed a similar study for New Hampshire. It found that although not accepting the funds would reduce state Medicaid spending, it would reduce the number of uninsured in the state, and increase federal revenues by $1.8 to $2.7 billion in New Hampshire between 2014 and 2020.
A separate report commissioned by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium estimated that if the state accepts expansion, 41,500 uninsured Alaskans will become eligible for Medicaid in 2014 and bring an estimated $1.1 billion in new federal revenue to the state over the next seven years,.
Parnell has said that he’ll make his decision on whether or not to expand the program when he presents his budget at the end of the year.
DHSS did not say when it would release the report. According to the Alaska’s Public Records Act, public records need to be released no later than 10 days after requesting them. Not all records are public, however. Some can remain private because they are considered “deliberative” and contain “opinions, recommendations, or advice about policy.”
Legislative lawyers told Wielechowski that the report is not a deliberative document because it contains no advice about policy.
Contact Amanda Coyne at email@example.com