5 Things Alaska: Value-driven systems of care, Republican leadership, Vaccine hesitancy


Emily Boerger


We are very excited to be joining everyone again at State of Reform again this year. I’m disappointed it won’t be in person, something I know we would all prefer if things were different. But, with new cases now much higher in Alaska than previously, and only 47% of Alaskans fully vaccinated, we decided that what I want is different than what I can have…

But, the line up of speakers curated for you at State of Reform is still very impressive, just as you would expect. So, in this issue of 5 Things We’re Watching in Alaska health care, we feature a few of those sessions for you on September 14th. I hope you’ll make time to join us.





With help from Emily Boerger

1. Policy Leadership: Republicans

Some of the most impactful Republican legislators in Alaska health policy will join us at the 2021 Alaska State of Reform Health Policy Conference next month. During our “Policy Leadership: Republicans” panel, we’ll hear from Senate Majority Leader Shelley Hughes, and Reps. Ken McCarty and Mike Prax who both serve as members of the House Health & Social Services Committee.

During the conversation, these leaders will discuss their observations on health and fiscal policy in the regular session, the special sessions, and how COVID will impact their work into 2022. Be sure to bring your questions, as well as your own insights, to this unique opportunity and conversation.


2. How value driven systems of care are evolving

Clinically integrated networks have arrived in Alaska, changing the nature of care coordination in the state. At the conference on September 14, our “How value driven systems of care are evolving in Alaska” panel will explore how these efforts are growing in Alaska to drive improved value and lower costs.

This panel of thought leaders will include Sheldon Fisher, Chief Strategy Officer at Providence Health & Services Alaska, and Rhonda Prowell-Kitter, Chief Financial Officer at Public Education Health Trust. We’ve also invited Dr. Rob Lada, a physician at PEAK Neurology, to participate.


3. Overcoming vaccine hesitancy

Early on, Alaska had one of the highest vaccination rates per capita in the country. The latest data from the CDC now shows Alaska in the bottom half of states in terms of vaccinations per 100k. So, we are looking forward to bringing together three experts to discuss what we have learned about vaccine hesitancy in different communities across the state, and how best to overcome this reluctance.

Joining this panel will be Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne ZinkJennifer Meyer, PhD, Assistant Professor of Health Sciences at the University of Alaska – Anchorage, and Jonathan King, Consulting Economist at Halcyon Consulting.


4. Update from DHSS

Adam Crum serves as Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services – the state’s largest agency and one of the most important forces for health reform in Alaska. Commissioner Crum will join us at the State of Reform conference next month where he will lead our “Update from DHSS” panel.

During this session, Commissioner Crum will update our State of Reform audience on the initiatives, priorities, and work underway at the department. This will be a highly interactive conversation, and one you won’t want to miss!

5. Getting our hands around homelessness

Homelessness is a problem across the country, but it is particularly challenging in Alaska given its vast geographic area and increased cost of living. This breakout session will begin to unpack the challenge of homelessness, and talk through policy options available to Alaska’s state and local leaders.

Offering their expertise on our “Getting our hands around homelessness” panel will be Lisa Aquino, CEO of Catholic Social Services, and Kelda Barstad, Program Officer at the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. We’ll also hear from Jasmine Boyle, Executive Director of the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness, and Melinda Freemon, Executive Director of Anchorage Project Access.