Detailed Agenda

Our 2022 Alaska State of Reform Health Policy Conference Detailed Agenda is a list of nearly 50 speakers and experts from across the spectrum of care.

The agenda and speaker list are driven by input from our Convening Panel of leaders in Alaska health care which makes it possible to look forward to a great event on October 6th! If you’re not already registered, you can do so here.

For now, let us know if you have any questions about the conference. We look forward to seeing you in-person in Anchorage!


7:30 - 8:30

Networking Breakfast

The networking breakfast will take place before the start of the conference to allow attendees to grab a light refreshment and to connect with one another before we kick things off for the day.

8:30 - 8:45

Welcome & Introduction

This opening session will kick off the day with comments framing the conference agenda and the role State of Reform hopes to play in a new era of policy and politics.

Vern Smith: Host, State of Reform

8:45 - 9:15

Morning Keynote: A conversation with Dr. Anne Zink

Our Morning Keynote will feature a one-on-one conversation with Dr. Anne Zink, Chief Medical Officer with the Department of Health. During this keynote, Dr. Zink will discuss ongoing programs, department priorities, and the future of Alaska health care in a post-COVID world.

Anne Zink, M.D.: Chief Medical Officer, Alaska Department of Health

9:30 - 10:30

Capitol insiders discuss health policy

One of our most popular sessions, this panel of well-connected and knowledgeable insiders will discuss health policy and fiscal work from the 2022 session, ongoing policy conversations, and their predictions for the road ahead. Bring your questions to what is always an interactive and informative panel on the politics, policies, and personalities driving health policy.

Bethany Marcum: Chief Executive Officer, Alaska Policy Forum

Kristopher Knauss: Managing Partner, Confluence Strategies

Marge Stoneking: Associate State Director of Advocacy, AARP Alaska

9:30 - 10:30

An honest conversation on the future of the behavioral health system

During the course of the pandemic, Alaskans saw increased rates of substance abuse, depression, and other behavioral health challenges. So, how has the health system been able to respond? Where has the state found success and what key issues remain? Hear from these experts as they talk through the efforts that are moving the needle on improving Alaska’s behavioral health system.

Lindsey Kato: Senior Consultant, Health Management Associates

Farina Brown: Deputy Director, Division of Behavioral Health, Alaska Department of Health

9:30 - 10:30

Initiatives for addressing the workforce crisis

Alaska, like most states across the nation, is facing significant challenges when it comes to growing and supporting its health care workforce. Challenges include recruitment and retention efforts, DEI work, and supporting the education pipeline. This group of panelists will come together to explore solutions aimed at addressing the workforce crisis.

Jared Kosin: President & Chief Executive Officer, Alaska Hospital and Healthcare Association

Mari Selle: Director, Workforce Development & Health Equity, Alaska Primary Care Association

Tom Wadsworth, PharmD: Executive Associate Dean, University of Alaska Anchorage/ISU Doctor of Pharmacy Program

9:30 - 10:30

The impact of cost & inflation on the health system

Alaska has some of the most expensive health care costs in the country, and cost growth doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Will costs continue to rise as inflation makes its mark on the health care system? Our panelists will discuss the impact of inflation on the industry and explore possible practices that could help keep health care costs down.

Elizabeth Ripley: Chief Executive Officer, Mat-Su Health Foundation

Sandra Heffern: Chief Executive Officer & Owner, Effective Health Design

Dan Robinson: Chief of Research, Department of Labor and Workforce Development

Pat Shier: Alaska Representative, Pacific Health Coalition

10:45 - 11:45

Policy leadership: Republicans

This panel will bring together some of the most important Republican legislators in Alaska health policy for a discussion on the health and fiscal topics that are driving conversations at the capitol. Join these lawmakers as they reflect on their health policy work from the last session and plan ahead for 2023.

Sen. Shelley Hughes: Majority Leader, Alaska State Senate

Rep. Ken McCarty: Member, House Health & Social Services Committee

10:45 - 11:45

The future of Medicaid

Changes are on the horizon for Alaska’s Medicaid program. With the end of the public health emergency comes the loss of certain program flexibilities and the beginning of the redetermination process. Looking long-term, conversations around value-based care and funding will be on program leaders’ minds. This multi-perspective panel will dive into the details of what comes next for the state’s safety net.

Emily Ford: Director of Government Affairs, Providence Alaska

Lisa Aquino: Chief Executive Officer, Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center

10:45 - 11:45

Moving from awareness to action on health equity

From access to care to health outcomes, it’s clear that health disparities pervade the health care system. But how do we use our awareness of health disparities and turn it into efforts to create meaningful change? This panel will discuss challenges in establishing health equity as well as ways in which those challenges can be overcome to provide all Alaskans with the services they need to stay healthy.

Linda Henderson-Smith, Ph.D.: Senior Product Director, Beacon Health Options

Celeste Hodge Growden: President & Chief Executive Officer, Alaska Black Caucus

Veronica Sandoval: Principal, Genentech's Chief Diversity Office

Cheryl Dalena: Co-Chair, Healthy Alaskans

10:45 - 11:45

Surveying the progress of value-based care

Moving away from the traditional fee-for-service model in favor of value-based care models has been a persistent priority for some health care leaders. This session will explore what has been working in Alaska for value-based care, and where persistent obstacles limit moving this vision forward.

Sheldon Fisher: Chief Strategy Officer, Providence Alaska

Jon Zasada: Health Policy & External Affairs Department Director, Alaska Primary Care Association

12:00 - 12:45

Lunch Keynote: Future priorities of the new state health agencies

For our Lunch Keynote we’ve invited the commissioners of the newly formed Department of Health and the Department of Family and Community Services. During this conversation, DOH Commissioner Adam Crum and DFCS Commissioner Kim Kovol will update our audience on the initiatives, priorities, and work underway at these highly impactful state agencies.

Adam Crum: Commissioner, Alaska Department of Health

Kim Kovol: Commissioner, Alaska Department of Family and Community Services

1:00 - 2:00

Policy leadership: Democrats

We’ve convened this group of Democratic legislators to talk through policy from the 2022 session, interim work, and what the future looks like for Alaska health policy. Be sure to bring your questions to this valuable conversation!

Sen. Tom Begich: Minority Leader, Alaska State Senate

Rep. Andy Josephson: Chair, House Health & Social Services Finance Subcommittee

Rep. Zack Fields: Member, House Health & Social Services Committee

1:00 - 2:00

Opioids, fentanyl & SUD

Opioids, fentanyl, and substance use disorder are primary concerns for health officials in Alaska. The recently released 2021 Drug Overdose Mortality Update stated that Alaska saw 253 drug overdose deaths in 2021, compared to 146 in 2020. These experts will discuss the challenges presented by opioids, fentanyl, and SUD, and what health officials can do to address the issue.

Lindsey Kato: Senior Consultant, Health Management Associates

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

Jessica Filley: Epidemiology Specialist II, Officer of Subtance Misuse & Addiction Prevention, Division of Public Health, Alaska Department of Health

Heather Phelps: Policy, Regulations, and Planning, Division of Behavioral Health, Alaska Department of Health

1:00 - 2:00

Innovations from cross-state collaboration

Many health care ties exist between Alaska and other Northwest states. This panel will focus on some of the health-related partnerships, connections, and collaborations that are showing progress in improving access and outcomes. You’ll hear from Alaska-based folks alongside leaders from the lower-48 who will discuss ongoing innovative care approaches and new opportunities for cross-state care collaboration.

John Scott, M.D.: Chief Digital Health Officer, University of Washington Medicine

Lance Dunlop, M.D.: Assistant Dean, Clinical Education, Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences

James Bales, M.D., Ph.D.: Neurosurgery Specialist, Anchorage Neurosurgical Associates

Jack Sedwick, M.D.: Otolaryngology Specialist, Alyeska Center for Facial Plastic Surgery & ENT

1:00 - 2:00

Interoperability, data modernization, & building infrastructure

The importance of interoperability and data utilization to improve care continues to emerge and grow in the state. This session will review the successes, challenges, regulations, and policies impacting this space, and will highlight the changes that health care organizations and consumers might see as a result.

Lori Wing-Heier: Director, Alaska Division of Insurance

Gene Quinn, M.D.: President, HealtheConnect Board of Directors

Carrie Paykoc: Chief Health Informatics Officer, Alaska Department of Health

2:15 - 3:15

Federal health policy & its impact on Alaska

The conversation around federal health policy is expansive, with a focus on lowering costs and expanding coverage for Americans. This panel of experts will join us to share their insights on how the federal policy landscape continues to evolve, particularly in light of the upcoming midterm elections. Bring your questions to get a better understanding of what is to come in Congress and how it will impact Alaska’s health sector.

Ingrid Ulrey: Regional Director, Region 10, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

2:15 - 3:15

A look at 988 & Alaska's evolving crisis response system

Alaska health officials have been hard at work making improvements to the state’s crisis response services. The 988 suicide prevention lifeline went live in July and the Crisis Now framework continues to guide changes to the crisis system. Hear from this group of behavioral health experts as they discuss these new initiatives and their potential impact on Alaska.

Leah Van Kirk: Statewide Suicide Prevention Coordinator, Alaska Division of Behavioral Health

Eric Boyer: Senior Program Officer, Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority

Michelle Baker: Vice President of Behavioral Health, South Central Foundation

2:15 - 3:15

How can we meaningfully address the social determinants of health?

The social determinants of health are important to one’s health status, but it’s not entirely clear how to utilize that knowledge in a way that is meaningful and sustainable to health care organizations and patients. This robust panel will discuss innovative approaches to addressing the social determinants impacting Alaskans.

Asm. Meg Zaletel: Executive Director, Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness

Jeffrey Meyerhoff, M.D.: Senior National Medical Director, Optum Behavioral Health Solutions

Robin Dempsey: Executive Director, Catholic Social Services

2:15 - 3:15

From cost to access: An update on Rx policy

Prescription drug pricing and purchasing has been a major concern in both policy and market-centered conversations. But where do we stand? How has COVID changed the perception or importance of pharmacies and the pharmaceutical industry? This panel will explore these topics and answer your questions on prescription drug policy.

Brandy Seignemartin, Pharm.D.: Executive Director, Alaska Pharmacists Association

Emily Ricci: Chief Health Administrator, State of Alaska Division of Retirement and Benefits

Lisa Sherrell: Manager, Alaska Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

3:30 - 4:00

Afternoon Keynote: A conversation with Ella Goss

We are honored to have new Providence Alaska CEO Ella Goss speaking as our Afternoon Keynote! Don't miss this valuable session with Goss as she speaks on the future direction of Providence in Alaska and their continued commitment to the communities they serve.

Ella Goss: Chief Executive Officer, Providence Alaska


Reception - Sponsored by Optum

Please join us following the Afternoon Keynote session for a networking reception sponsored by Optum. Drinks and hors d'oeuvres will be included, giving attendees a wonderful opportunity to follow up on the discussions we've had throughout the day.