Alaska Senate HSS Committee hears testimony on creation of a Health Insurance APCD

The Senate Health and Social Services Committee held its first hearing for SB 93 Tuesday. The bill would allow the state to establish an all-payer claims database (APCD) in order to help lower health care costs.

 

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An APCD is a state maintained database that provides for the systematic collection of health care payment data from insurers and providers. This data will assist policymakers and industry professionals in analyzing cost, quality and utilization so they can craft improved policies.

This bill, requested by the governor, will make changes to the Alaska Insurance Code to authorize the Alaska Division of Insurance to establish a statewide APCD to collect, aggregate and report on claims data. The bill would also allow the division director to select a lead organization to coordinate and manage the database. 

Certain insurers and providers will be required to submit their health cost data, and the data will be used for policy analysis, cost trends and potentially help inform consumers about their health care choices.

The APCD Council, a learning collaborative that is focused on improving the development and deployment of state-based APCDs, offered feedback on the bill. 

The council said because the goal of the database is to help the health care system improve by allowing them to benchmark their performance against others, the state should consider changing language in the bill. They recommended allowing the provider to be identified in the database, so that analysts can use the data to calculate cost and quality measures by providers.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 24 states now have APCDs, and the Federal Government is providing $2.5M grants to states to start or improve APCDs under the 2020 Surprise Medical Billing Law.

Elizabeth Ripley, president and CEO of the Mat-Su Health Foundation, said that these federal grants will help alleviate the perceived obstacle of cost when creating the Alaska APCD, and shows a federal movement towards standardizing data.

“One perceived obstacle to the creation of an Alaska APCD has always been cost. However, recent Federal legislation, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, provides enough funding for all 50 states to participate effectively and ensures uniform data submission and the privacy and security of the data… There is national movement towards standardized data submission requirements, which will ease some of the previous administrative burden– one of the arguments used to waive the mandatory reporting by ERISA funded plans. Specific language in the funding bill states that proprietary financial information cannot be released and that authorized users of the data will be prohibited from attempting to re-identify and disclose protected data.”

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) urged support for the bill because Alaska has the fastest growing senior population in the nation and they believe this database would also benefit all Alaskans. AARP said in written testimony:

“APCDs play an important role in promoting health transparency, promotion of quality care, and payment reform. APCDs include medical, pharmacy, dental, eligibility and provider files from both private and public payers and can provide critical information about health care utilization and costs. With the highest medical cost per capita in the country with the highest medical costs in the world, Alaska has much to gain with improved price transparency and data collection.”