U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today released the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 5-4 opinion to uphold the Affordable Care Act:
"I'm pleased Alaskans will continue to receive important benefits such as coverage for young adults through their parents' insurance, access to care for individuals with pre-existing conditions, tax credits for small businesses, increased services for our seniors, improved coverage for Alaska Natives, and even cash rebates if insurers don't spend your premiums on health care.
"While the law is not perfect, the status quo was not an option. Health care costs were skyrocketing and insurance companies were in charge of escalating those costs. There is still plenty of work to do, and I look forward to the State of Alaska moving forward on implementation.
"The court's ruling on the Medicaid section of the law may raise questions for the states, but I believe the answer is not that difficult. The court says states now have the option of expanding health coverage -- in Alaska, more than 30,000 people are newly eligible. Because the states will never pay more than 10 cents on the dollar for this coverage, it is a very good deal.
"It is time to move past the politics and come together to make the law work for Alaskans."
What This Decision Means for Alaskans:
* 9,000 young adults keep their newly gained medical coverage through their parents' insurance plans, and more will become eligible;
* 40,000 seniors keep their access to free screenings like mammograms, colonoscopies or wellness exams;
* An additional 121,000 Alaskans with private health insurance also will retain access to free screenings;
* An estimated 3,000 seniors in the "donut hole' will keep getting financial help to afford prescription drugs -- hundreds of dollars each;
* 11,500 businesses will maintain their eligibility to receive tax credits to help them afford health insurance for their workers;
* An estimated 3,000 Alaskans this year will receive cash rebates of over $600 because their insurance companies spent too much on their own administrative costs and not enough on actual health care for their customers;
* Alaska Natives and American Indians will have permanent protections under the Indian Health Care Improvement Act;
* An estimated 40,000 Alaska families will receive tax credits -- totaling thousands of dollars each -- to help afford health insurance bought in the exchange.