Annie Feidt, APRN - Anchorage
afeidt (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8443 | About Annie
March 31st is the deadline for signing up for health insurance. And insurance companies in Alaska are bracing for confusion over the deadline. They worry many Alaskans don’t realize they won’t be able to buy health insurance anywhere after that date.
The deadline to sign up for health insurance is next Monday, March 31st. To accommodate the last minute rush, the Obama administration announced this week you’ll be able to enroll as long as you begin the process before the end of the month. After that, you won’t be able to buy coverage on healthcare.gov, or anywhere, unless you have a qualifying life event, like getting married or having a child.
The state is planning an aerial survey this spring to figure out how much new debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami has arrived on Alaska’s shores. Environmental groups spent much of last summer cleaning up debris. But the state’s vast and rugged coastline has made it a slow and costly project.
Alaskans working to sign people up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act say they’re seeing a big increase in enrollments this month. The boost comes as the March 31st open enrollment deadline approaches.
A State House committee has eliminated funding for a state program that helps medical professionals repay their student loans if they serve poor or rural patients. It’s called the SHARP-II program and clinics say it’s an essential tool to convince physicians and other medical professionals to care for patients in under-served communities.
Employers in Alaska pay the highest workers compensation premiums in the country. And most of that cost goes toward medical claims. The Alaska State Chamber of Commerce has for several years, made reforming the system one of its legislative priorities. And this year, at least one state lawmaker is working on legislation to help control workers compensation costs.
The Iditarod Sled Dog race will start from Willow as planned. The Iditarod Trail Committee has been weighing moving the race start to Fairbanks in the last week because of low snow and icy conditions on the 65 miles of trail between Willow and Skwentna.
On the Cross Country Skiing World Cup scene, the U-S Women are known as the team that has the most fun. And you can bet they’ll have more glitter, face paint and fancy socks than any other Olympic team in Sochi. The accessories may seem silly, but they’ve also become an important element in the phenomenal success of the team.
Most Alaskans know who Olympic skier Kikkan Randall is. But can you name her Alaskan Pacific University coach? His name is Erik Flora. He’s a workaholic who is enthusiastic, passionate and motivated. And he deserves more than a little credit for the dramatic turn around the U.S. cross country ski team has managed in the last decade.
Democratic state lawmakers are introducing legislation in the House and Senate to expand Medicaid in Alaska. Governor Sean Parnell rejected the expansion, which is part of the Affordable Care Act, in November.
Dozens of lawmakers and their staffers are relocating to the capitol city for Tuesday’s start of the legislative session. Lobbyists and reporters will also spend at least part of the 90 day session in Juneau. The temporary population influx provides an important revenue boost to many local businesses.
The federal government released numbers today that give an idea of who is signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. In Alaska, about 3000 people selected marketplace plans before Dec. 28 and 83 percent qualify for a subsidy to help pay for premiums. But Enroll Alaska has seen a steep drop off in the number of people signing up for insurance in the New Year.
Anchorage resident and U.S. Ski Team Member Holly Brooks is in the middle of her World Cup Season. And she just made her second Olympic team. Four years ago, Brooks had just started pursuing her long-shot Olympic dream. Now as she prepares for Sochi, she’s in a very different position, with several years of international experience behind her.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell won’t allow a road through Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. Residents of King Cove have been asking the Interior Department for permission to build a one lane gravel road through the refuge for decades. They want easier access to Cold Bay, which has an all weather airport.
For low income Alaskans who want to buy health insurance on the federal marketplace, there’s a magic number to keep in mind: $14,350. That’s the amount of yearly income they have to earn to qualify for a subsidy to purchase coverage. With the subsidy, they have to pay very little for health insurance. But below that mark, it’s full price.
Groups in Alaska working to sign people up for health insurance on the federal marketplace say the website is working much better. The Obama Administration re-launched an improved healthcare.gov marketplace yesterday. Now insurance agents and navigators have three weeks to help Alaskans enroll in insurance plans that start offering coverage January 1st.
Premera Alaska won’t increase premium rates for Alaskans who decide to extend their plans for another year. The company previously had to cancel plans that didn’t meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act for 5,400 members in the state.
The first World Cup event of the season in cross country skiing is scheduled to start this Friday in northern Finland. Four Alaska Pacific University skiers will race, Kikkan Randall, Holly Brooks and Sadie Bjornsen and Rosie Brennan. This will be an eventful season for the team, building up to the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in February.