5 Things Alaska: Preston Simmons, Alaska Medicaid, Public safety

We are now less than two weeks away from our 2019 Alaska State of Reform Health Policy Conference – and it’s getting here fast! We already have more registrations than at any point in the last decade, and most of our signups typically come in the last seven-to-ten days. So, I think the crowd will be well over 300 folks.

Since most of what we’re watching in Alaska health care ends up also on our agenda, in this issue we’ve highlighted a few of the sessions and the speakers you’ll get to hear from at State of Reform on October 2nd!


With help from Emily Boerger



1. Preston Simmons, CEO of Prov Alaska

Few folks hold as much ability to move the Alaska health care market as does the CEO of Providence Alaska. That job title currently belongs to Preston Simmons, a long time hospital executive who has been with the organization since 2007.

He’ll join us for our Morning Keynote session to outline his vision, strategy and approach to delivering high quality, high value care to the broader Alaska community. I’ve known Preston since 2014 when he joined me for a conversation at a different event. He’s a thoughtful, strategic leader who I think you’ll learn a lot from at the open of our conference.

2. Health care innovation, Alaskan style

There is always a lot of talk about innovation in health care. Often, it means more levels of administrative burden and more costs to the system overall. But, there are some initiatives underway in Alaska that are saving both time and money, and often significantly improving the care experience for both patient and provider.

At 11:30, we’ll hear about a few of those efforts from Laura Young, Executive Director of healtheConnect. She’ll be joined by Shadi Battah, MD, a physician at the Alaska Hospitalist Group, and Randi Anderson, the Executive Director of the Jones Learning, Innovation and Simulation Center at Virginia Mason.

3. Republican voices in the legislature

We have a diverse panel of Republican legislators coming to State of Reform this year. On the panel titled “Policy Leadership: Republicans” at 11:30, we have the Chair of the Senate HSS Committee David Wilson, and the relatively new member Rep. Sharon Jackson. They’ll be joined by the inimitable pillar of the Legislature, Senator John Coghill.

Together, they’ll discuss health policy and fiscal realities facing Alaska’s policymakers. They’ll also take your questions in what is always one of the highlights of the conference agenda.

4. Public safety and the social determinants

Some of the contextual elements of the recent deterioration of public safety in the state is the connection to mental health, poverty, and substance abuse. Each of these also impact the health of individuals, just as they do communities. They create a connection between the challenges of public safety and those of health care.

We’re going to dig into the substance of those connections with some of Alaska’s most thoughtful leaders in this space. Rep. Geran Tarr will anchor a panel that includes Nikole Nelson of Alaska Legal Services Corporation and Jeanene Smith from HMA. They’ll explore how health policy and health care intersect with the social determinants.


5. The future of Alaska Medicaid

This is last today, but it’s one of the most important topics in Alaska health care. At 1:45, we’ve got a panel with three very thoughtful speakers who come to this issue from a diversity of perspectives, each valid and informed but different from the other.

Rep. Jennifer Johnston is the co-chair of the House Finance Committee. She’ll lead the panel and be joined by Becky Hultberg of ASHNHA and Nora Liebowitz of HMA. They’ll talk through policy, financing, and the market implications of both reforming Medicaid and the consequences of doing nothing.