Elizabeth Ripley testifies in support of Adam Crum

Elizabeth Ripley is the Executive Director of the Mat-Su Health Foundation.  She is also one of the most dynamic community health strategists of anyone I know in any of the nine states we cover.  I hold her in very high esteem.

So, when she testified in support of Adam Crum, Alaska’s DHSS Commissioner and fellow Mat-Su resident, I asked Elizabeth to share her testimony.  For those that may not yet have met now-Commissioner Crum, I think it’s worth knowing that she speaks so highly of him.  Her comments are below.


 

Testimony on Behalf of Adam Crum

House Health and Social Services Committee

Representatives Spohnholz (Chair), Zulkosky, Claman, Drummond, Tarr, Jackson and Pruitt

April 13, 2019

 

Representative Spohnholz, members of the committee, my name is Elizabeth Ripley and I serve as CEO of the Mat-Su Health Foundation, which shares ownership in Mat-Su Regional Medical Center.  I’m here to support the nomination of Adam Crum as Commissioner of the Department of Health & Social Services.

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I first met Adam at the Mat-Su Business Alliance, where he and his family’s business, Northern Industrial Training, have won multiple awards for growing their business and helping the Mat-Su economy.  Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with Adam in his new roll as commissioner.  I’ve been impressed with how quickly he has come to understand the department, Alaska’s healthcare needs and challenges, and the complicated funding streams, systems and statutes that drive healthcare delivery in AK. He’s expressed genuine appreciation and support for DHSS staff for their efforts to improve our healthcare. And he’s trying to help the divisions break down silos and be more strategic, efficient and effective.   I believe that Adam has a heart for this work, and that, coupled with his business acumen, will go a long way towards making his tenure successful.

He’s trying to negotiate a path forward with CMS to meet the Governor’s goal of reducing healthcare costs to the State and reducing healthcare costs for Alaskans.  That is something we can all get behind.  He knows AK has behavioral health challenges, including an opioid crisis; he recognizes we need to shift investments to prevention and early intervention; he grasps the benefits of maximizing investments in home and community-based services.  And he understands we’re counting on him and his leadership to figure out how to make these shifts to get more value and better health outcomes for Alaskans from our healthcare delivery system.

We do have some concerns about changes to Medicaid that have been put forward by the administration, but we feel like our concerns are being heard by Adam. Our position has always been that Medicaid reform offers opportunities for efficiencies that must be explored. We’ve expressed to the department that behavioral health and home and community-based providers should be excluded from the proposed provider rate cuts and that switching from grants for these providers to a Medicaid billing model must be accomplished over several years’ time for critical services to be sustained for Alaskans. We’ve also discussed how private sector investment in our community to build out behavioral health services and long-term services and supports is dependent in part on a stable Medicaid environment.

We need someone at the helm of DHSS who has the business acumen, the finance and budgetary skills, the lean/six sigma organizational management knowledge, the workforce development expertise, and the communication and emotional intelligence to lead change. Adam has those skills and experiences.  I recommend him and I look forward to partnering with DHSS to deliver more value for our health and social services dollars. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.