Annie Feidt, APRN - Anchorage
afeidt (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8443 | About Annie
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.
Health Insurer Premera Alaska will allow 5,200 customers in the state to keep their insurance plans. The company canceled the plans for 2014 because they didn’t meet requirements of the Affordable Care Act. But earlier this month, after public outcry, President Obama said insurers could offer those canceled plans for another year, as long as states allowed it.
Enrolling in healthcare.gov is not easy. But Anchorage hair stylist Lara Imler is one of the few Alaskans who managed to get through the process late last month. Now though, after she discovered problems with her application, Imler wants to cancel her enrollment. And she’s finding that may not be so simple either.
The state’s insurance director is resigning. Bret Kolb is leaving to become development director at Victory Ministries of Alaska, a bible camp and conference center based in Palmer. He has been on the job at the Division of Insurance for 18 months, during a time of incredible upheaval in the health insurance industry, with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Senator Mark Begich is proposing a change to the Affordable Care Act that would make cheaper insurance options available. The Expanded Consumer Choice Act would add a new tier of coverage to the range of plans available on the individual market starting in 2015.
About 9,000 Alaskans are being forced out of their existing health insurance plans next year under the Affordable Care Act. Last week, President Obama announced new rules that may allow some residents to keep their plans for another year. But for Fairbanks knife maker Mark Knapp, that “fix” doesn’t go far enough.
Friday, Governor Parnell announced he won’t expand Medicaid in Alaska. Medicaid expansion is a key provision of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. It would offer health coverage to an estimated 40,000 low income Alaskans. Parnell says he doesn’t want to attach Alaskans health care or finances to a “failing Obamacare system.”
President Obama said today insurers can continue offering the plans they intended to cancel as part of the Affordable Care Act. The announcement is a response to outcry over the President’s “if you like your plan you can keep it” promise, which turned out to be untrue for millions of Americans. Now, state insurance regulators and insurance companies have to figure out if they can make Obama’s new plan work.