AK: DHSS releases Healthy Alaskans 2020 strategies

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) released a 68-page document outlining 75 strategies aimed at achieving its 25 health improvement goals established by the Healthy Alaskans 2020 (HS2020) initiative. According to DHSS:

Strategies, Actions, and Key Partners to Reach our 25 Health Improvement Goals is a guide to assist entities throughout Alaska in aligning their health improvement efforts with HA2020 using the latest scientific evidence.

HA2020 focuses on improving indicators related to the health of individual Alaskans (i.e. reducing obesity rates and increasing vaccination rates) as well as system-level issues. System issues focus on improving a struggling mental health system and addressing the gaps in access to affordable health insurance.

So far, DHSS reports that they have achieved or are on track to achieve 12 of the 25 goals. Their goals to improve mental health services and access to affordable health care are not among the twelve.

The strategies aimed at improving access to affordable health care are focused on reforms and cost reductions related to the state Medicaid and state employee health plans. In addition, public education campaigns are also recommended as a means to increase awareness of financial supports available to those without health insurance.

Strategies to improve mental health outcomes rely heavily on increasing the number of providers available to Alaskans either directly, or via telemedicine. Creating a continuum of care for co-occurring mental and substance abuse disorders was also highlighted. Funding and structure for such a continuum has not yet been established, however.

HA2020 was established by grants from the Centers for Disease Control and the Office of State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support.

Engage with health care leaders and policy makers on these and other important topics at our Alaska State of Reform Conference on October 8th.