5 Things Alaska: Q&A with Rep. Josephson, Express Care, Gennifer Moreau

The governor’s budget will be out by December 15th, which will kick off the gnashing of teeth known as the legislative budget process. With a recall campaign likely getting dragged up to the Supreme Court, it may provide powerful context to this year’s session. Whether it tones things down or amps things up remains to be seen.

While we remain in the calm before the storm, here are 5 Things we think are worth tracking in Alaska health care for November, 2019.



With help from Emily Boerger
and Michael Goldberg


1. Q&A with Rep. Andy Josephson

Representative Andy Josephson wears many hats as a legislator. From the judiciary to finance, from environmental policy to health care financing, Rep. Josephson is as plugged into Democratic policy in Alaska as is anyone in the state, something often lost in his sometimes understated nature.  So, I think it’s always smart to hear about what Rep. Josephson is working on and his thoughts on the politics of the day.

This week, we spoke with Rep. Josephson to recap where things left off on the health care front last session, and what issues he hopes to focus on in 2020. He touched on state plan amendments, prescription drug monitoring, the governor’s push to cut Medicaid, and more.

2. Providence launches Express Care

In the wake of contentious legal battles over free standing ERs, Providence Health & Services Alaska will open a total of 5 clinics offering Express Care services to Alaskans in the coming months — four in Anchorage and one in Eagle River. Two of the clinics opened in the fall (Huffman and Anchorage South locations), two are scheduled to open in winter 2019 (Midtown Mall and Tikahtnu Commons), and the Eagle River location is scheduled to open in early 2020.

These are sort of step-down clinics from a traditional urgent care setting. They’ll include a tele-medicine service called Express Care Virtual. The services aim to offer patients a new way to receive care — one that is more affordable, easier to access, and avoids more costly care options like trips to the emergency room.

3. The state of the Democratic debate on health care

The politics of health care powered Democrats to a House majority in 2018 and have played a central role in drawing the ideological boundaries between the Democratic candidates for president. To understand the context of the health care debate at this point in the primary, reporter Michael Goldberg curated a reading list from the candidates’ platforms and analyses from reporters who’ve followed the race closely.

With the Iowa Caucus just 74 days away, campaigns are ratcheting up their efforts to draw distinctions and shore up support. As the distinctions grow sharper and support solidifies among the candidates, context can get left behind. Bookmark this reading list for some context.


4. Video: Gennifer Moreau, DHSS

Gennifer Moreau is the Director of the DHSS Division of Behavioral Health. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss Alaska’s Section 1115 waiver and behavioral health reform in the state.

“We are targeting groups that tend to be served at the acute end of care — which is also the expensive end of care… The innovation is to identify those groups — and we have our three target populations — and develop Continuums of Care that are designed around the needs of those populations.”


5. Public health nurses collaborate with OSMAP

DHSS provided State of Reform with an update on work being done by the Office of Substance Misuse and Addiction Prevention (OSMAP) and the Division of Behavioral Health. The collaboration is part of DHSS’s ongoing effort to build bridges across programs and divisions to more effectively collaborative and support the health of Alaskans.

From DHSS: “This collaboration has resulted in the repurposing of three public health nurse positions who will be funded by OSMAP and work closely to address substance misuse in communities throughout Alaska. As part of this work, the Section of Public Health Nursing is also implementing a trauma-informed and culturally-responsive care model to create trauma-informed public health clinics throughout Alaska.”