Gov. Mike Dunleavy has not said what he plans to do with a Walker administration initiative to create a state health authority. The idea has been in the discussion stage for several months. When he was in the state senate Dunleavy proposed a similar plan to centralize public employee health plans under state management. Many municipalities and school districts, who would see their independently-run health plans merged under the state, are not happy with the idea and want an “opt out” provision. Fairbanks officials say they are doing a good job containing health cost increases on their own and are skeptical a state-managed centralized entity can reduce costs. The Fairbanks North Star Borough says its employee health costs were only 9 percent higher in 2017 than in 2012. The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District said it has reduced its health costs by $5 million a year in recent years with its locally-managed plan. Medical costs amount to 15 percent to 20 percent of the Fairbanks school costs, the district said.
Survey: Anchorage 65% bove nataion on health costs
The Health Care Cost Institute reported that overall price level for health care in Anchorage between 2012 and 2016 was the highest of 112 metropolitan areas surveyed, and was 65 percent above the U.S. average. San Francisco was next highest at 49 percent above the average. The Institute’s Healthy Marketplace Index surveyed inpatient, outpatient and medical professional services in an analysis of 1.8 billion health insurance claims filed during the period. This was reported in First National Bank’s periodic survey of economic conditions, which is compiled by University of Alaska economics professor emeritus Scott Goldsmith.
State contracts out API management
Gov. Mike Dunleavy will turn management of the troubled Alaska Psychiatric Institute over to a private company, Wellpath Recovery Solutions. The contract was awarded without a competitive process on an emergency basis, state officials said. API, the state’s only facility for patients with acute mental health issues, has experienced serious management issues and staff turnover to the point that its certification to receive federal Medicaid and Medicare funding could be at risk. Wellpath, based in Nashville, Tenn., was recommended to the state by the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. The company has ties to private prison operators. The state’s timeline is to bring API into compliance with national regulations and to restore its 80-bed capacity by June.