Alaska Gov. Bill Walker. (Mark Thiessen / AP)

Alaska is set to become the largest state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act through a plan announced Thursday by Gov. Bill Walker, a Republican-turned-independent.

Walker decided to enact the policy on his own authority after Republican lawmakers failed to advance his proposal in their latest session.

Jeffrey Young reports at The Huffington Post:

Broadening eligibility for the federal-state health care program could give coverage to as many as 42,000 Alaskans, according to the governor’s office. Walker informed the state legislature’s joint budget committee of his intent to accept federal funding for the expansion in a letter Thursday. He said he will meet with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to discuss Medicaid expansion next week.

“Alaska and Alaskans cannot wait any longer,” Walker said. “This is the final option for me. I’ve tried everything else,” he said of his decision to circumvent lawmakers after months of lobbying them to enact his plan via legislation. “I never give up, and I won’t give up.”

Medicaid expansion has been a major contributor to a historic drop in the uninsured rate since 2014. The 19 states that still reject the expansion are mainly in the South.

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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