Annie Feidt, APRN - Anchorage
afeidt (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8443 | About Annie
Lawmakers took public testimony for the first time Thursday on Governor Bill Walker’s bill to expand Medicaid. The public spoke during the last 30 minutes of the House Health and Social Services committee’s hearing on HB 148.
Alaska is participating in an multi-state investigation into Premera following a cyber attack on the health insurer early this year. The state’s insurance director says she has a lot of questions about why the attack occurred and why it took the company two months to announce it publicly.
Senator Pete Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican, previewed a bill he’s planning to introduce this week to reform the current Medicaid system. At a press conference this morning, he said the bill won’t include a provision to expand Medicaid. A group of Anchorage religious leaders and lay people are in Juneau to try to convince him and other skeptical lawmakers to change their minds on the issue.
The Alaska Health Care Commission would be eliminated in proposed funding cuts from the House finance committee. The Commission makes policy recommendations to the legislature and the Governor to improve the health of Alaskans and control health care costs.
The conservative group Americans for Prosperity, backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, recently opened an office in Anchorage. They’re working to convince elected officials to support their vision of smaller government. And one of their main priorities this legislative session is defeating Medicaid expansion.
Almost 21,000 Alaskans signed up for health insurance on healthcare.gov during the open enrollment period that closed Feb. 15.
House Republicans expressed skepticism over Governor Walker’s plan to expand Medicaid in a hearing this morning. The subcommittee hearing of the House Health and Social Services Committee was the first chance for lawmakers to publicly question Health Commissioner Valerie Davidson on the subject.
Health Commissioner Valerie Davidson unveiled two new reports today (Friday) at a press conference in Anchorage she hopes will help make the case for Medicaid expansion. They show Alaska can actually save money by expanding the program, even as the federal match drops below 100 percent.
Alaska Pacific University skier Kikkan Randall has spent three years on top of the World Cup sprint standings. This season has been different- she’s struggled to make even the top ten in races. Randall’s back in Europe now, after spending a few weeks in Anchorage to regroup.
Alaska Regional Hospital is planning to open a healthcare clinic in Mountain View by the end of year. There aren’t any primary care services in the neighborhood currently. That’s forcing residents to use Alaska Regional’s emergency room for routine care, according to Medicaid data from the state Department of Health and Social Services. That costs the hospital in uncompensated care and it costs the state in unnecessary Medicaid payments.
Alaska Regional Hospital is planning to open a healthcare clinic in Mountain View by the end of year. There aren’t any primary care services in the Anchorage neighborhood currently.
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.
Nearly 17,000 Alaskans have signed up for health insurance on healthcare.gov during this open enrollment period. That’s already a substantial increase from last year. And Affordable Care Act navigators expect the next three weeks will be even busier as the February 15th enrollment deadline approaches.
Starting this month, businesses in Alaska with more than 100 full time workers have to provide health insurance. And under the Affordable Care Act “full time” is any employee who works more than 30 hours a week. Senator Lisa Murkowski is sponsoring legislation that would change that threshold to 40 hours. Many restaurants owners in Anchorage are watching the legislation closely.
Physicians spend a lot of time thinking about how to fix the human body. A group of young doctors in Anchorage recently had the chance to draw it instead. They are all overworked, over tired interns-midway through their first year of residency. But they spent a morning in an intro to drawing class in an effort to get them to think more creatively about their careers.
A group of doctors in Anchorage hopes to do a better job caring for some of the sickest patients in the city. It may cost more money initially, but in the long run, the goal is also to save health care dollars. The new group is called Alaska Innovative Medicine and the idea is based on a kidney dialysis clinic.
The Department of Health and Social Services has created a new position to help the state work toward the goal of expanding Medicaid. The job is “Medicaid expansion project director” and it’s being filled by Chris Ashenbrenner, who spent two decades working for the department and came out of retirement to take on this challenge.