Payments to providers continue
The state will continue payments for Medicaid services to health care providers after a needed supplemental budget for the Department of Health and Social Services is was approved by the Legislature. The budget had been delayed due to ongoing political squabbles in Juneau, and there were concerns the department would have to cut back on payments until July 1, when the new FY 2020 budget goes into effect. In these situations the normal practice is to delay payments to larger providers so as to continue payments to smaller providers, many who operate on thin margins.
Medicaid contract to PCG, Inc.
The state administration will award a $100,000 contract to Boston-based Public Consulting Group, Inc. for recommendations on options to restructure the state-administered Medicaid program. The study is due by June 30 and would consider federal block grants, or lump-sum payments, in lieu of the current fee-for-service system along with subsidized private insurance. An earlier study of the insurance idea, by Seattle-based Milliman, Inc., found that the private insurance plan would add $57 million to $97 million per year to state Medicaid costs over the first five years.
PCG’s recommendations will be followed by a longer-term study if the state decides to pursue the options, which will need a federal waiver that will allow changes in the Alaska program. Gov. Mike Dunleavy is pushing for changes in Alaska Medicaid, a joint federal and state health program, to lower costs, but federal approvals are needed. The federal government pays for most Alaska Medicaid costs. Work requirements for Medicaid recipients may also be in the mix.
Interior tribal health care expanding
Tanana Chiefs Conference is planning a medical clinic in Tok, in eastern Interior Alaska, illustrating the continuing expansion of tribal groups into health care services. Construction will be underway this summer on the new facility. The idea is also to consolidate services now offered in the region including a smaller clinic and behavioral health services provided by TCC. Tribal clinics are open to all, not just Alaska Natives.