SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Medicaid Reform Bill Becomes Law


June 22, 2016
Wednesday PM

(SitNews) Juneau, Alaska -Governor Bill Walker signed Senate Bill 74 into law Tuesday, making way for financial savings to the state and expansion of health care services offered to Medicaid recipients in Alaska. Governor Walker signed the bill at the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium in Juneau.


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The Senate bill to implement major Medicaid reform was signed into law SB 74, sponsored by Sen. Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks), is estimated to bring in savings of up to $33 million in the first year of implementation, and up to $113 million by fiscal year 2022, according estimates by the Department of Health and Social Services.

“This bill implements simple yet effective reforms that many Alaskans would be surprised to learn aren’t in place already,” said Sen. Pete Kelly.

“I thank Senator Pete Kelly and his staff for working with my administration to identify improvements that could be made to the state’s Medicaid program,” Governor Walker said. “This legislation is an example of the great things we can accomplish when we pull together to do what’s right for Alaska.”

Some of the reform measures included in this bill:

  • expanding the use of telemedicine
  • expanding the use of primary care case management and health homes for people who have chronic health conditions and behavioral health needs
  • reforming the behavioral health system
  • enhancing a public/private partnership to reduce non-urgent use of emergency room services
  • setting up better protections to prevent opioid dependence
  • enhancing fraud detection measures

Other provisions include piloting health care delivery models and innovative payment models that move Alaska’s Medicaid program from paying for volume to paying for value, while considering the unique needs of Alaska.

“We want to maximize dollars and improve the quality of health care in Alaska,” said Valerie Davidson, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services. “Reform is an ongoing process. We appreciate the broad reform authority in SB 74 that allows the Department to pursue additional reforms in the future.”

“Medicaid reform isn’t about reducing access to services,” said Sen. Kelly. “It’s about reforming a system in a way that offers more effective care at a lower cost.”

The Medicaid reform package will reduce the number of unnecessary visits to the emergency room by encouraging increased use of primary care, reduce travel expenses by better coordinating office visits, reduce pharmacy costs and improper usage of opioids, eliminate user fraud and increase access to telemedicine.

The Legislature heard testimony from the Alaska Mental Health Trust, tribal health organizations, the Department of Law, medical providers, behavioral health providers, hospitals, analysts, care management firms and more, all offering input on ways to reform the current Medicaid system.

On the Web:

Senate Bill 74


Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

Office of Governor Bill Walker

Office of Sen. Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks)


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