What They’re Watching: Senator David Wilson

Senator David Wilson is the Chair of the Senate Health & Social Services Committee in the Alaska State Legislature. He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss substance use and abuse.

“One thing [I’m watching] in health care is, I would say, behavioral health — especially with substance use and abuse. Somethings that in our state we have sort of led the way on in terms of innovation [include] our PDMP model, with our prevention efforts in programming and trying to get sort of utilization of those type of rates down. I think we’ve started to see a decrease with our local ERs coming together and forming a coalition to make sure that they’re all on the same page of prescribing the least likely to be addictive, to the higher up as pain progresses with the individuals. [Other innovations include] our seven-day supply limit, with looking at now our behavioral health integration within our primary care clinics with more of a managed care.

We have pilot projects going on within the one hospital that’s already showing a 50 percent reduction of utilization within the first six months of their pilot program. So, it’s not a state-based program, it’s through sort of a private foundation partnering with the hospital in terms of, they have 50 patients that they’ve taken an approach to looking at them and involving them with an intensive case management sort of approach to see what they really need. Is it just more of just someone to talk to? Is it just more making sure their med management has been taken care of so they don’t have to go to the ER to get a bridge supply until they can meet with their next medical provider?… It’s more than just, “well don’t go to the ER just come see me.” It’s trying to head off and trying to look at those preventative measures before they have to go to those higher utilization rates of care and trying to get that more on the lower side. That’s been really, really productive thus far. I know the state’s looking at that now through our couple new contracts that are being awarded in the RFP but it’s looking promising.”