By Mark Andrews*
June 16, 2009
The twenty-sixth Alaska State Legislature adjourned its 2009 session on Tuesday, May 26. The most recent actions taken on several healthcare initiatives before the House and Senate are indicated below:
Universal Health Insurance and Administration
Mandatory Universal Health Insurance: SB 61 [Referred to Senate Labor & Commerce Committee, March 16, 2009]: An Act establishing: an Alaska healthcare program to ensure insurance coverage for essential health services for residents of the state; the Alaska Health Care Board to administer the Alaska healthcare program and the Alaska healthcare fund; the Alaska healthcare clearinghouse to administer the Alaska healthcare program under the direction of the Alaska Health Care Board; and eligibility standards and premium assistance for healthcare coverage of persons with low incomes; and creating the Alaska healthcare fund, and providing for review of actions and reporting requirements related to the healthcare program.
Alaska Health Care Commission: SB 172 [Referred to Senate Health & Social Services Committee, March 27, 2009]: An Act establishing the Alaska Health Care Commission in the Department of Health and Social Services.
Health Reform Policy Commission: HB 25 [Referred to House Health & Social Services Committee, January 20, 2009]: An Act establishing the Alaska Health Reform Policy Commission in the Department of Health and Social Services, and establishing the position of the executive director of that commission in the partially exempt service.
Health Commission/Planning: HB 75 [Referred to House Health & Social Services Committee, January 20, 2009]: An Act establishing the Alaska Health Commission; relating to health planning; requiring a certificate of need study.
Electronic Health Info Exchange System: SB 133 [Passed; signed by Republican Governor Sarah Palin (Governor) May 25, 2009, effective date July 1, 2009]: Creating a statewide electronic health information exchange system.
Veterans' Health Care: HJR 10 [Passed; transmitted to Governor May 21, 2009; permanently filed May 25, 2009]: Urges the United States Congress to improve healthcare for veterans.
Advance Health Care Directives Registry: HB 71 [Referred to House Judiciary Committee, April 15, 2009]: An Act relating to a registry for advance healthcare directives.
Limit Overtime for Registered Nurses: SB 12, HB 50, HB 51 [SB 12 referred to Senate Committees on Finance, April 15, 2009; House Bill 50 Referred to House Finance Committee, April 15, 2009; House Bill 51 Referred to House Committee on Health & Social Services, January 20, 2009]: An Act relating to limitations on mandatory overtime for registered nurses and licensed practical nurses in healthcare facilities.
Incentives for Certain Medical Professionals: SB 139 [Referred to Senate Committee on Finance, April 7, 2009]: An Act establishing a loan-repayment program and employment incentive program for certain healthcare professionals employed in the state.
Benefits Eligibility and Administration
Medicaid Insurance for Cancer Clinical Trials: SB 10 [Before Senate Rules Committee, April 16, 2009]: An Act requiring 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; directing the Department of Health and Social Services 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.
Medical Insurance Eligibility/Nondiscrimination: HB 222 [Passed; awaiting transmittal to Governor, April 19, 2009]: An Act prohibiting discrimination by healthcare insurers based on genetic information; providing special enrollment requirements related to Medicaid and state child health plan coverage; requiring a healthcare insurer to offer coverage for the treatment of alcoholism or drug abuse; providing continuity of coverage for college students during medically necessary leaves of absence from college; requiring healthcare insurers in the group market to provide parity in the application of mental health and substance abuse benefits that comply with federal requirements; amending the definition of "dentist" to include out-of-state dentists for purposes of certain dental insurance requirements.
Dependent Health Insurance; Age Limit: SB 11 [Referred to Senate Labor & Commerce Committee, March 20, 2009]: An Act relating to healthcare insurance coverage of a dependent child who is less than twenty-six years of age and making a conforming age amendment in the statute describing health insurance policies that may be delivered or issued in this state.
Home Health Aides for Seniors: HCR 9 [Referred to House Committees on Health & Social Services, Finance, February 25, 2009]: Relating to home health services for older Alaskans and adults with disabilities.
Pharmacy Benefits Managers; Managed Care: SB 38 [Referred to Senate Labor & Commerce Committee, April 6, 2009]: An Act relating to insurance; removing references, definitions, and confidentiality-of-information provisions relating to managed care entities, substituting healthcare insurers in the former role of managed care entities, and amending the definitions of "covered person," "managed care plan," and "utilization review," as those terms relate to the administration of managed care insurance plans; authorizing persons to act as pharmacy benefits managers subject to oversight by the division of insurance; and amending the definition of "health care insurer" as it relates to healthcare insurance.
Mental Health Service Benefits, Funding, and Administration
Appropriations, Mental Health Budget: HB 83, SB 76 [House Bill Passed; signed by Governor May 21, 2009; Senate bill referred to Senate Finance Committee, January 21, 2009]: An Act making appropriations for the operating and capital expenses of the state's integrated comprehensive mental health program.
Mental Health Care Insurance Benefit: SB 21 [Referred to Senate Health & Social Services Committee, January 21, 2009]: An Act requiring healthcare insurers to provide coverage for treatment of mental health, alcoholism, and substance abuse conditions, and requiring parity between healthcare insurance coverage for mental health, alcoholism, and substance abuse benefits from provider and the healthcare insurer; repealing a definition of mental health benefits that excludes treatment of substance abuse or chemical dependency.
Mental Health Patient Grievances: SB 66 [Referred to Senate Health & Social Services Committee, January 21, 2009]: An Act relating to a mental health patient grievance procedure.
Develop Mental Health Trust Land: HR 6 [Passed February 25, 2009; transmitted to Governor, March 2, 2009; permanently filed May 5, 2009]: Encouraging the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority to develop its land and resources to the fullest extent possible consistent with its legal and moral responsibility to advance mental health services and employment opportunities that protect and enhance the lives of those who benefit from the mental health trust.
Certificates of Participation for Subport: SB 157 [Referred to Senate Finance Committee, April 3, 2009]: An Act directing the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation to transfer $22,700,000 from the principal of the mental health trust fund to the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority; relating to the development of revenue-producing facilities on mental health trust land and to the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority Subport Office Building; authorizing the issuance of certificates of participation for construction of the building; approving leases of all or part of the building by the Department of Administration; and providing for an effective date.
Juneau Subport Bldg/AHFC Bldg: HB 161 [Passed House April 8, 2009; referred to Senate; referred to Senate Finance Committee, April 9, 2009]: An Act directing the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation to transfer $22,700,000 from the principal of the mental health trust fund to a separate trust land development account; relating to the development of revenue-producing facilities on mental health trust land and to the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority Subport Office Building; authorizing the issuance of certificates of participation for construction of the building; approving leases of all or part of the building by the Department of Administration; and authorizing the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation to acquire the building that it occupies for an amount that does not exceed $14,500,000.
Access detailed information about each of these bills on the The Alaska State Legislature's using the "Search Bills" website feature.
*AHLA wishes to thank Mark Andrews, Esquire (Fairbanks, AK) for providing this email alert.
The Healthcare Reform Educational Task Force is a joint endeavor of the Healthcare Liability and Litigation; Hospitals and Health Systems; In-House Counsel; Payors, Plans, and Managed Care; Physician Organizations; Regulation, Accreditation, and Payment; and Teaching Hospitals and Academic Medical Centers Practice Groups.