5 Things We’re Watching – Alaska, April 2013

This is a busy time.  The legislative session is done, but with exchange plans coming together, things are speeding up rather than slowing down.

Navigators, health plans, hospitals and AlaskaCare.  They are the kinds of things we’re watching this month.

1. $600,000 for exchange ‘navigators’ in Alaska

HHS released an RFP for navigators on the exchange this month.  The amount allocated to Alaska is $600,000 for 12 months.  With 139,421 estimated uninsured under the age of 65, that makes compensation for each uninsured Alaskan about $4.30.

Granted, not all uninsured will register in 2014, but let’s say 25% of those register in the next 12 months.  At an average of 90 minutes to enroll someone on the exchange, that puts the hourly compensation at about $11.47.

That’s a pittance compared to what’s needed to make the application process work.”

2. One insurance company’s approach to the exchange

Jason Gootee is the senior executive for ODS Health Plans in Alaska, soon to be Moda Health.  We got his insight on the state of health care today, the coming exchange and how the insurer plans to navigate the storms ahead.

He joined us for a two part interview.



3. Wrangell is first, Providence is second

The American Association of Hospital Journalists has put together a database of federal inspections of hospitals, and the violations which were determined:  www.hospitalinspections.org. This information had previously been available only under a FOIA request, so the transparency is new.

Alaska hospitals as a group do pretty well compared to other states, with the most violations going to Wrangell, and secondly to Providence Anchorage.

4. Premera, Aetna, and McDonald’s hamburgers

The close of the 2013 legislative session on Sunday saw a bit of a scramble on one health care matter:  HJR 14.  The resolution, with its 33 ‘Whereas’ clauses, points to price increases at Premera and Aetna, as well as reduction of full time staff at McDonald’s, to support its call for a delay of implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  The bill was alive until the last day of session.

More noteworthy perhaps is the slight overall reduction in Medicaid from an already lean budget submitted by the governor.


5. “Unfounded and harassing in nature”

Sometimes you note something just to see if it will become relevant as time moves on.  The fact the Alaska Republican Party now has its third chairperson in three months – after firing the last two – is one of those things.

If it means anything at all for future elections – and I’m not sure it does given the infighting in the party structure – it might mean that candidates like Joe Miller will have a tougher time in 2014.  And, since he is rumored to be looking at the US Senate race against Sen. Begich, this shake up in the party may become consequential.