Detailed Agenda

Our 2020 Alaska State of Reform Health Policy Conference Detailed Agenda is a list of over 50 speakers and experts from across the spectrum of care. The heading colors correspond to track colors on our Topical Agenda to help you organize your day.

The agenda and speaker list are driven by input from our Convening Panel of leaders in Alaska health care and we’re looking forward to a great event on September 30. If you’re not already registered, you can do so here.

For now, let us know if you have any questions about the conference.


8:00 - 8:10

Welcome and Introduction

DJ Wilson, Host of State of Reform, will kick off the day with comments framing the conference agenda, and the role of State of Reform hopes to play in this challenging era of health policy and politics. He will orient us to the conference, including a run down of how best to utilize the unique tools of the virtual platform.

DJ Wilson: Host, State of Reform

8:10 - 8:50

Keynote: The Future of US Health Policy

Jim Capretta is one of America’s most well regarded thought leaders on the intersection of federal health and fiscal policies. He tracks state health policy across the country, and has authored multiple health policy white papers which are often widely circulated in Washington DC. His focus on solutions rather than ideology has helped him win bi-partisan accolades.

In his keynote, Capretta will discuss the ongoing rule making activity at CMS, which states to watch for significant health reforms in 2021, and offer a comparison of the next four years in health policy under both potential administrations.

Jim Capretta: Milton Friedman Chair, American Enterprise Institute

9:00 - 9:50

Capitol insiders talk health care

In what is always a popular session, these government relations professionals will discuss state health policy, the upcoming 2021 session and the impact of the 2020 elections on reform. Bring your questions, as well as your own insights, to a session that is particularly interactive and forward thinking.

Eldon Mulder: Owner, The Mulder Company

Kristopher Knauss: Managing Partner, Confluence Strategies 

9:00 - 9:50

Mental health and the pandemic

At current rates, one in 24 Alaskans will contract COVID in the next 12 months. However, according to public reporting, one in 3.5 Alaskans will be unable to control their worry or anxiety more than half of the hours of a given week. So, while the public health crisis is real, the mental health crisis may be more impactful and long lasting for Alaskans to deal with. 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 will explore a topic we may be dealing with for years to come.

Steve Williams: Chief Operating Officer, Alaska Mental Health Trust

Sarah Alquist: Vice President, Beacon Health Options

Tom Chard: Executive Director, Alaska Behavioral Health Association

Gennifer Moreau-Johnson: Director, Division of Behavioral Health, DHSS

9:00 - 9:50

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. From work from home to mass layoffs, things will change in meaningful ways for some years. But what will that mean for Alaska, for the nature of work, and for the state of the economy? This panel will explore the topic and bring their best thinking to the questions that lie ahead.

Kati Capozzi: Chief Executive Officer, Alaska Chamber of Commerce

Mouhcine Guettabi: Assoc. Professor of Economics, University of Alaska Anchorage

Larry Persily: Journalism Chair, University of Alaska Anchorage

9:00 - 9:50

Update from DHSS

This session will feature Commissioner Adam Crum of DHSS and some of his leadership team as they update our State of Reform community on the initiatives and work underway at the agency. Bring your questions to what is always a well-attended and highly interactive conversation.

Adam Crum: Director, DHSS

Al Wall: Deputy Commissioner, DHSS

Heather Carpenter: Health Care Policy Advisor, DHSS

10:00 - 10:50

Policy leadership: Democrats

While 2020 looks like it could be a big year for Democrats nationally, it’s not yet clear how that will impact the party’s position in Alaska. Regardless of how the election plays out, Democratic caucuses will likely tee up a range of health policy ideas that will surface in the next session. This panel will present key legislative leaders and their vision for the future of Alaska health policy. Bring your questions to what is always a thoughtful conversation on the future of health policy in Alaska.

Sen. Tom Begich: Minority Leader, Alaska Senate

Rep. Ivy Spohnholz: Chair, House Labor and Commerce Committee

Sen. Bill Wielechowski: Chair, Senate Judiciary (Fin Sub)

Rep. Sara Hannan: Chair, House Arctic Policy, Economic Development and Tourism Committee

Sen. Scott Kawasaki: Member, Senate Revenue Committee (Fin Sub)


10:00 - 10:50

Social determinants, health equity and COVID

The COVID pandemic has laid bare the disparate health outcomes across race, color and demography. These reflect the variation related to the social determinants of health, and long standing issues related to health equity. So, what do we know more of now about this problem than we did just a few months ago? This session will explore the question and talk through possible solutions.

Lisa Aquino: Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Social Services

Melissa Kemberling: Owner, Actionable Data Consulting

Joe McLaughlin: State Epidemiologist, DHSS

10:00 - 10:50

Reviewing the budget situation facing Alaska

Building a state budget and setting fiscal policy for Alaska was already extraordinarily difficult given the collapse in oil prices. It’s getting harder as a result of the lingering economic contraction. Moreover, with a looming general election and the possibility of significant federal support - or not - the range of variables makes crafting working majorities extremely difficult. This session will explore the possible options before the legislature, ranging from a special session to new taxes and to-the-bone cuts.

Sen. Natasha Von Imhof: Co-Chair, Senate Finance Committee

Rep. Geran Tarr: Co-Chair, House Resources Committee

10:00 - 10:50

Health reform lessons from outside Alaska

This virtual conference allows us to bring in voices from across the country to highlight the successful reform efforts in other states. This session will elevate relevant experiences from across the country, featuring those that may have the most positive impact on the future of Alaska’s reform efforts.

Jeff Heatherington LDH (Hon): President, The Heatherington Foundation for Innovation and Education in Health Care, Inc. (Oregon)

Kim Bimestefer: Director, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing

11:00 - 11:50

Policy leadership: Republicans

This panel includes some of the most important Republican legislators in Alaska health policy. They will gather to discuss their observations on health and fiscal policy since the previous legislative session ended, and how the pandemic in 2020 will impact the work of the legislature in 2021. Bring your questions to what will be a dynamic session.

Sen. David Wilson: Chair, Senate Health and Social Services

Rep. Mike Prax: Member, House Education Committee

11:00 - 11:50

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. This session of public and private actors will discuss the issues related to the topic, and take your questions.

Rep. Andy Josephson: Chair, House Judiciary Committee, Finance Sub-Committee

Tammy Green: Chief Executive Officer, ANHC

Jared Kosin: Chief Executive Officer, ASHNHA

11:00 - 11:50

Getting our hands around the total cost of care

While this year has been one of disruption, the total cost of care in Alaska continues to be a primary concern for businesses, individuals, and state budget writers. This session will discuss the ongoing issues related to the total cost of care, ranging from the unit cost and utilization rates to the role of the consumer.

Jason Gootee: Vice President, Strategic Market Development, Moda Health Plan

Donna Smith, MD: Associate Chief Medical Officer, Virginia Mason

Brandon Ousley: Chief Executive Officer, Anchorage Fracture and Orthopedic

11:00 - 11:50

Modernizing the public health system

This year of COVID has clearly demonstrated the importance of a strong, modern and adequately funded public health system in Alaska. It’s also underscored how much work remains to build an infrastructure and a system to meet the moment. This panel will discuss the work and road ahead, and of course include both your comments and questions.

Heidi Hedberg: Director, Alaska Division of Public Health, DHSS

Heidi Lengdorfer: Chief Data Officer, DHSS

Laura Young: Executive Director, healtheConnect Alaska

Rorie Watt: City Manager, City and Bureau of Juneau

Robert Barr: Emergency Operations Planning Chief, City and Bureau of Juneau


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. From CMS rule-making to a continuing resolution outlining future spending, there are a number of vehicles teed up that could impact health care well into the next term. This session will talk through what some of those items are and what we might see as the calendar moves into the next year.

Colm O'Comartun: Co-Founder, 50 State

Scott Nelson: Partner, K&L Gates

Andrew Coats: Senior Policy Advisor, Hall Render

Sara Berkemeier Bell: Legislative Assistant, Office of Sen. Dan. Sullivan


"Deaths of despair": The hidden impacts

The health of the community and individuals will be impacted in a range of ways from this pandemic. Many of these impacts may manifest as isolation, depression, and substance abuse. Those may lead to negative health outcomes downstream, with some instances resulting in death. So, how can the system prepare for and address these challenges? This panel will discuss these questions and impacts from the pandemic on Alaska.

John Cook: Director of Behavioral Health, Mat-Su Health Services

Renee Rafferty: Regional Director of Behavioral Health, Providence Health and Services

Lance Johnson: Director, Behavioral Health, Norton Sound Health Corporation

Kathi Trawver: Professor/BSW Program Coordinator, UAA School of Social Work


Care redesign and system transformation

The pandemic is changing us in meaningful ways. We don’t shake hands much, and hugs seem like a thing of the past. So, how is health care changing as a result? Is the site of care shifting? Are our expectations of the system different now? Are we savvier shoppers or perhaps just more scared? This group of experts will discuss the topic and share their ideas on the long term impacts of 2020 on the system.

Preston Simmons: Chief Executive Officer, Providence Health & Services Alaska

Renee Gayhart: Director, Division of Health Care Services, DHSS

Sandra Heffern: Consultant, Alaska Health Reform


Building on the momentum of telehealth

Telehealth is one of the more important stories of the COVID pandemic. The utilization of telehealth tools has been catalyzed in a way no other effort has been able to since the advent of the model more than 20 years ago. So, what have we learned from the growth of telehealth, and what is likely to stick with us after COVID recedes? This panel will explore the question and highlight what we know - and what we think - about the future to come.

Karen Gifford: Senior Director, Hospital Operations, Virginia Mason

Julianna Yu, MD: Medical Director, Transfer Center & Acute Care Telemedicine, Virginia Mason

Melanee Tiura: Chief Executive Officer, Iliuliuk Family & Health Services


Afternoon keynote: A Conversation with Dr. Zink

To close out State of Reform, our event will conduct a one-on-one conversation with Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer with DHSS. Bring your questions to what will be a thoughtful discussion on the future of care in Alaska.

Annie Zink, MD: Chief Medical Officer, DHSS