5 Things Alaska: Economic impacts of COVID, Jim Capretta, Medicaid access

We are very excited to host our 2020 Alaska State of Reform Virtual Health Policy Conference in two weeks! While this is our first virtual conference we’ve held in Alaska, it’s actually our 10th year hosting State of Reform in the state! I wasn’t sure we were going to make it to year two back in 2011, much less year ten!

But, thanks to your support, State of Reform continues to foster this non-partisan “safe table” around which different silos from the Alaska health care community can gather. We’re very honored that you allow us to play this role, so thank you.

This month, we feature five things we’re looking forward to at our upcoming conference. I hope we’ll have you with us!





With help from Emily Boerger

1. The economic impact of COVID

It is clear that the structure of the economy – and the meaning of work – is shifting during this economic moment. But what will that mean for Alaska, for the nature of work, and for the state of the economy? Our panelists will dig into these questions and more during our economic impacts panel at the 2020 Alaska State of Reform Virtual Health Policy Conference.

This panel will feature Kati Capozzi, Chief Executive Officer of the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, Mouhcine Guettabi, Assoc. Professor of Economics at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and Larry Persily, Columnist with the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

2. Keynote: Jim Capretta

We are very much looking forward to our Morning Keynote session with Jim Capretta, the Milton Friedman Chair at the American Enterprise Institute and our DC-based columnist. He is one of the more respected thought leaders in the country.  As an associate director at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget from 2001 to 2004, he was responsible for all health care, Social Security, welfare, labor, and education issues.

Capretta will offer a view from Washington DC on the current state of federal health policy and how he thinks that might change in the next term of office – depending on who occupies the White House. He has expertise in the politics of health care, entitlement, and US budget policy, as well as global trends in aging, health, and retirement programs. See his latest State of Reform column here.


3. Ensuring access to Medicaid in the downturn

As Medicaid enrollment is expected to climb with the lingering recession, making sure that beneficiaries can access the care they’ll need during this crisis will take a thoughtful approach. At the conference on September 30th, our panel, “Ensuring access to Medicaid in the downturn” will discuss the topic and what Alaska might expect from the wave ahead.

Joining the conversation will be Rep. Andy Josephson, Chair of the House Judiciary Finance Sub-Committee, Tammy Green, Chief Executive Officer of Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center, and Jared Kosin, Chief Executive Officer of ASHNHA.


4. Mental health and the pandemic

As pressures from the public health pandemic and the economic crisis continue to increase, the importance of access to behavioral health services will be critical. So, how is the health care system, and the mental health system in particular, preparing to deal with the communal trauma of this pandemic? This session, “Mental health and the pandemic.” will explore a topic we may be dealing with for years to come.

Steve Williams, Chief Operating Officer at Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, and Sarah Alquist, Vice President at Beacon Health Options, will offer their insights. Tom Chard, Executive Director of the Alaska Behavioral Health Association, will also speak on the panel.


5. Update on federal policy

While the pending election has put some efforts on hold, a number of federal policy initiatives remain in discussion and ready to recommence once the election is concluded. This panel of experts will discuss a number of vehicles teed up that could impact health care well into the next term.

Speaking on our “Update on federal policy” panel is Colm O’Comartun, Co-Founder of 50 State, and Andrew Coats, Senior Policy Advisor at Hall Render. Also joining the conversation will be Sara Berkemeier Bell, legislative assistant for the Office of Sen. Dan Sullivan, and Scott Nelson, Partner at K&L Gates.