5 Things Alaska:  Managed care, defining “local,” key health care legislators 

This is the time of year when the things we are watching in Alaska health care and health policy take shape on the agenda we are preparing for you at our 2018 Alaska State of Reform Health Policy Conference.  In other words, you’ll find the most important topics in Alaska health care teed up for you on our agenda coming up on October 10th!  So, with that, here are some of the topics we’re watching and which you’ll hear more about at the Dena’Ina Convention Center.

DJ 5 Things Signature


1. Making managed care work in Alaska

United Healthcare has been awarded a contract for care coordination in Medicaid in the South Central region, including Anchorage and the Mat-Su region. It will include about 55,000-60,000 beneficiaries among the 205,000 current Medicaid enrollees.  This is a big change in Alaska’s Medicaid system, one that many stakeholders in Alaska are buzzing about.

So, we’ve lined up three key voices for you to hear from on this topic: Roger Brown from United Healthcare will discuss the organization’s plans.  Nancy Merriman, Executive Director of the Alaska Primary Care Association, will talk through how providers are preparing for this shift. And, Amy Mackin, an Attorney at Hall Render, will provide a national perspective of how managed care of this sort is playing out in other states.


2.  Update from DHSS on state health policy

Three names of folks inside DHSS will join a panel at 10:30 to update you on the latest work inside the agency.  Deb Erickson is currently the Medicaid Redesign Project Coordinator.  Monique Martin is now the Acting Deputy Commissioner of Family, Community, and Integrated Services. Gennifer Moreau-Johnson is the Acting Director of Behavioral Health.

These three leaders at DHSS will talk through the details of DHSS policy implementation across the full range of initiatives under way at DHSS.  Bring your questions to what is always a lively and popular discussion.

3.  Mark Begich, Candidate for Governor 

Mark Begich will be joining us as one of our morning keynote speakers. He is a candidate in what has become a wide open and dynamic race for governor in the State of Alaska. Begich has developed a six point platform for health care in his administration, should he be elected.  We’ll talk through it with him in a Q&A session to start the morning.

At a recent forum, Begich admitted his past support for the ACA didn’t help his 2014 Senate re-election. Yet, he didn’t run from the vote in 2014, and continues to campaign on it in 2018.  You can check out highlights from his keynote comments with us at our 2014 events here.  They are worth watching now with a few years of history under our collective feet.

4.  Legislators shaping health policy in 2019

You’ll hear from some of the most important legislators on health policy on October 10th. With 9 members already confirmed, or 15% of the entire legislature, it’s really an impressive group.  Rep. Paul Seaton will talk through state fiscal issues, while Sen. Cathy Giessel will address the 80th percentile rule. Rep. Ivy Spohnholz will share her vision and “blueprint for Alaska’s health care system.”

On our Republican panel, you’ll hear from Sen. David Wilson, the Chair of the Senate Health & Social Services Committee.  He’ll be joined by Sen. Natasha von Imhof and Rep. Colleen Sullivan-Leonard.  On the panel titled “Policy Leadership: Democrats,” both Rep. Geran Tarr and Rep. Matt Claman have confirmed their participation. I expect we’ll have one more legislator with us on that panel, as well.


5.  Defining “local” in Alaska’s health care system

Rising health care delivery costs have been matched with pressure from Alaska’s economic downturn. Together, they have forced employers, providers and health plans to re-consider their approach to providing care. In what was once a conversation framed around “medical tourism,” it’s now clear that the idea of “local” is shifting, too.

This panel will explore the topic with three physician voices:  Noah Laufer of Medical Park, John Mues of Primary Care Associates, and Chris Porter of Virginia Mason. They’ll discuss the challenge and opportunity that exists as Alaska’s delivery system sorts through changing economic and care delivery models for the state.