CONTACT: Lorie Morris, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Alaska Human Services Coalition March 14, 2008
EVENT: Rally for Denali KidCare
Thursday, March 30, 12 noon
Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center – 1217 E. 10th Ave, Anchorage AK
ADVOCATES TO RALLY FOR DENALI KIDCARE
Let’s Finish the Job of Covering Kids
Anchorage, Alaska. Advocates for children’s health care will rally at the Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center on Thursday, March 20 at noon. The purpose of the rally is to spotlight legislation pending in the Alaska Legislature that would give more children access to health care through the state’s Denali KidCare Program (DKC).
SB 212, sponsored by Senator Bettye Davis (D-Anchorage), will make health insurance accessible to over 1,200 additional children in Alaska by restoring the maximum eligibility for DKC to the program’s original 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL). Because the federal government pays almost 70% of the bill for DKC, the cost to the State of Alaska would be only about $770,000 per year.
SB 212 passed the House Health and Social Services Committee on January 28th with support from the majority of committee members. The bill has been in the Senate Finance Committee since January 30th without a hearing.
When the Alaska legislature authorized Denali KidCare (DKC) in 1999, the program provided access to comprehensive health care for low-income children in families earning up to 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL), now about $26,500 for a family of four in Alaska. However, in 2004, the legislature changed the way Alaska calculated maximum eligibility for DKC. Instead of basing eligibility on a percentage of FPL, maximum eligibility was changed to a hard-number income limit that froze eligibility at the 2003 level and over time, automatically cut children of working families out of the program. By 2007, maximum DKC eligibility fell to 153% FPL leaving an estimated 3,500 children uninsured -- children who would have been eligible under the 1999 rules.
During the 2007 session, the legislature partially addressed the problem of access to health care for low-income children by returning maximum DKC eligibility to a percentage of FPL, this time 175% FPL. While a positive move, this action did not fully solve the problem. Thousands of children originally covered under the original maximum eligibility of 200% FPL were left out of the program. The job of covering Alaska’s kids is not over until DKC is restored to its original eligibility limit.