State analyzing higher claims for expanded Alaska Medicaid

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Costs for Alaska's expanded Medicaid program have exceeded first-year estimates by roughly $30 million so far, leaving some concerned about the impact the program may have on the state budget once the federal government stops covering the entire tab.

    Gov. Bill Walker expanded Medicaid to provide coverage to thousands more lower-income Alaskans, with enrollment beginning last September. So far, more than 20,000 people have signed up.

    The federal government is expected to cover the health care expenses for the expansion enrollees through December; then, the state will start chipping in. Alaska's health department has said it expects the state's share would be offset by savings realized from moving more people to Medicaid.

    The reason for the higher-than-expected costs, though, wasn't immediately clear. Deputy state health commissioner Jon Sherwood said department officials planned to analyze that.

    State Rep. Dan Saddler says the costs seen so far are concerning.

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