Closing Keynote: Alaska Department of Health Commissioner Heidi Hedberg discusses access to care


Alex Nelson, Maddie McCarthy


Heidi Hedberg, commissioner at the Alaska Department of Health (DOH), discussed access to care and how it relates to the economy during the Closing Keynote at the 2023 Alaska State of Reform Conference last month.

Hedberg discussed Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s Healthy Families Initiative, and how DOH’s work complements the initiative. It aims to make Alaska the best and healthiest state for families to grow in, and has three pillars: healthy beginnings, healthcare access, and healthy communities. 

“When you see healthcare access, I want you to know that it is not just primary care [and] physical health. That also includes behavioral health. It’s the health of the whole person. So the work we’re doing is really all tied into and connected, in one way or another, to the governor’s Healthy Families Initiative.”

                    — Hedberg

Access to healthcare, including preventative healthcare, is important for the state’s economy as well, Hedberg said. 

“We want healthy families. We want to drive down the high cost of healthcare, and we want to really move upstream into prevention because we know if we have a healthy population [and] healthy Alaskans, we’re going to have a healthy economy.”

                    — Hedberg