The Senate Finance Committee approved hiring former-health commissioner Bill Streur today as a consultant on the Medicaid budget and Medicaid expansion. Expanding the program as part of the Affordable Care Act is a priority of Governor Bill Walker, but many Republican lawmakers say the state can’t afford any new spending.Download AudioSenator Pete Kelly, a Republican from Fairbanks, made the case for hiring Streur. He said he would keep an open mind on Medicaid expansion but was against the idea.“That’s not the path we’re on, we’re not headed for a Medicaid expansion,” Kelly said. “Actually, right now, if you had to ask me for a vote, I’d vote no, but my mind is completely open.”Streur was commissioner under former Governor Sean Parnell, who was resisted expanding Medicaid, saying he didn’t want to accept federal dollars that would increase the national debt.Senator Lyman Hoffman, a Democrat from Bethel, made sure the committee wasn’t hiring Streur to advocate against expansion.Hoffman: “I wanted it on the record that the purpose of hiring Mr. Streur and his contract is not specifically find ways to give us justification not to expand Medicare.”Kelly: “That’s correct.”Hoffman: “Or Medicaid.”Kelly said Streur may have ideas that would convince lawmakers that Medicaid expansion could save the state money. As health commissioner, Streur explored options for expanding Medicaid.