5 Things Alaska: Fundraising in primary, price transparency, Gubernatorial podcasts

Last week, I took my kids up to the top of Mt. Baldy in Eagle River, and then up to Byron Glacier outside of Girdwood.  And, unlike our hiking trips last year, we didn’t need the US Navy to come save us, so it was a success all around…!  With that, onto 5 Things We’re Watching in Alaska health care for August, 2018.

DJ 5 Things Signature

1.  Podcast: Republican candidates for governor

Next week’s primary election is a big one for Alaska, and could foretell who will sit in the governor’s chair during the 2019 session. Last week, we sat down with both of the leading Republican candidates for a conversation on health care and health policy before a live audience in Anchorage.

From 2013-18, Mike Dunleavy served as a State Senator representing Senate District D then District E. Prior to that, he was the Superintendent of the Northwest Arctic Borough School District and served as School Board President of the Mat-Su Borough School District. You can listen to his podcast interview here.

Prior to serving as Lieutenant Governor from 2010-14, Republican MeadTreadwell was appointed to the US Arctic Research Commission by President George W. Bush. In this podcast, Treadwell describes how his business background would play a role in the healthcare-related decisions he would make as governor.


2.  ICYMI:  Topical Agenda is now released!

Yesterday, we released our Topical Agenda ahead of our 2018 Alaska State of Reform Health Policy Conference.  It’s a big step for us as we build towards our event on October 10th!  If you haven’t taken a look yet, you can do so here.

We are now recruiting speakers and finalizing keynote panels for what has become Alaska’s largest gathering of senior health care executives and health policy leaders. We’d be very honored to have you with us and about 300 of your closest friends at this year’s event.  So, if you haven’t registered, you can do so here.  And, if you have any questions, you can always email me directly.

3.  New price transparency legislation signed

Last week, Governor Walker signed SB 105, a healthcare omnibus bill that combines three different pieces of healthcare legislation. The bill originally was related to “the licensure of marital and family therapists,” but the additional healthcare language was adopted later in session.

The bill aims to increase medical transparency in Alaska by requiring providers to publicly post the costs of common procedures and provide cost estimates to patients within 10 days of being asked. The bill also includes a measure related to ACES (adverse childhood experience syndrome), encouraging lawmakers to make policy decisions in a trauma-informed way. Lastly, the bill improves direction on marital and family counseling billing.

4.  Fundraising ahead of next week’s elections

Campaign finance filings came in yesterday ahead of next week’s primary, highlighting some down ballot races to watch. Two incumbent House members are facing off for the Senate seat in District G: Dan Saddler and Lora Reinbold.  Saddler reports raising about $50k.  Reinbold reports raising $57k in the race. In Senate District E, Randall Kowalke has raised a respectable $18k against Republican appointee Mike Shower, who through unclear APOC reporting appears to have raised about $27k.

Among gubernatorial candidates, Treadwell has raised and spent $137k since he started in June. Dunleavy reports raising $311k, of which all but $20k has been spent. Begich has raised $175k and Walker has brought in $583k with $307k cash on hand.


5.  Latest DHSS report on opioids in Alaska

Another new report shows the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic in Alaska. According to the DHSS report, opioid overdose deaths in Alaska increased by 77 percent between 2010 and 2017. In 2017, there were 108 opioid-related deaths in the state – that’s the highest one year count Alaska has seen.

There were, however, some positive results in the report to take note of. The number of high school students reporting heroine use dropped between 2011 and 2013 and has not since risen. Also, the rate of opioid prescriptions for Medicare Part D patients has decreased annually since 2015 and there is now better statewide access to overdose-reversing naloxone.