By Mark Andrews*
March 12, 2009
The 26th Alaska State Legislature convened in January 2009. Several healthcare initiatives are before the House and Senate.
House Bill 25 (Hawker) would establish the Alaska Health Reform Policy Commission within the Department of Health and Social Services (HSS) and establish the position of the Executive Director of that Commission.
House Bill 71 (Holmes, Dalhstrom, Millett, Kawasaki) would create a registry in HSS for advance healthcare directives.
House Bill 75 (Cissna and Gruenberg) would establish the Alaska Health Commission with responsibility for health planning and certificate of need requirements.
Senate Bill 133 (Paskvan) would create a statewide electronic health information exchange system.
Health Insurance Coverage Initiatives
Senate Bill 10 (Davis) would require healthcare insurers to provide insurance coverage for medical care received by a patient during certain approved clinical trials designed to test and improve prevention, diagnosis, treatment, or palliation of cancer. The bill would direct HSS to provide Medicaid services to persons who participate in those clinical trials relating to experimental procedures under a state plan offered by the Comprehensive Health Insurance Association.
Senate Bill 11 (Davis) would provide healthcare insurance coverage of a dependent child who is less than twenty-six years of age and make a conforming age amendment in the statute describing health insurance policies that may be delivered or issued in the state.
Senate Bill 21 (Davis) would require healthcare insurers to provide coverage for treatment of mental health, alcoholism, and substance abuse conditions, and require parity between healthcare insurance coverage for mental health, alcoholism, and substance abuse benefits and other medical care benefits; eliminate different treatment for mental health conditions from the minimum benefits of the state health insurance plan; remove an exclusion for mental health services or alcohol or drug abuse from the definition of basic healthcare services in the law relating to health maintenance organizations; repeal a provision that allows optional insurance coverage for treatment of alcoholism and drug abuse based on the number of employees and the duration of employment; repeal a definition of costs applicable solely to treatment for alcoholism and drug abuse, including a provision that allows the cost for treatment of alcoholism and drug abuse to be determined by the insurance contract or by a contract between the treatment provider and the healthcare insurer; repeal a definition of mental health benefits that excludes treatment of substance abuse or chemical dependency.
Senate Bill 61 (French) would establish an Alaska healthcare program to ensure insurance coverage for essential health services for residents of the state. The Alaska Health Care Board would be responsible to administer the Alaska healthcare program and the Alaska healthcare fund. The bill would establish eligibility standards and premium assistance for healthcare coverage of persons with low incomes; create the Alaska healthcare fund; and provide for review of actions and reporting requirements related to the healthcare program.
Senate Bill 139 (Olson) would establish a loan repayment program and employment incentive program for certain healthcare professionals employed in the state.
*We wish to thank Mark Andrews, Esquire (Tanana Chiefs Conference Inc., Fairbanks, AK) for writing this email alert.