Key federal status restored for Alaska Native Medical Center

Federal regulators have restored a crucial accreditation that allows the Alaska Native Medical Center to participate in Medicare and Medicaid, the hospital’s managing organizations said in a statement Wednesday.

“The official notification follows a site visit by federal regulators that occurred earlier this month, who confirmed successful implementation of a correction plan to address findings related to the unique governance structure overseeing operations of ANMC which have been in place for 25 years,” the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and Southcentral Foundation said in their statement.

In July, the 182-bed Anchorage hospital lost its Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “deemed” status when regulators found it was out of compliance with rules required to receive federal funding. The stakes were high: The inability to participate in Medicare, a key funding source, can be catastrophic for hospitals.

The changes focused on the “unique operating structure” of the hospital, including the emergency department, physician and nursing leadership, the role of the administrator and the joint operating board, according to Alaska Native Medical Center leaders.

Hospital managers said the issues did not involve patient care or safety. The facility remained open and operating.

The Alaska Native Medical Center will remain jointly operated by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the Southcentral Foundation, the statement said.

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She focuses on in-depth stories about the intersection of public policy and Alaskans' lives. Before joining the ADN in 2012, she worked at daily newspapers up and down the West Coast and earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon.