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State avoids Medicaid funding gap, will pay doctors and hospitals without interruption

  • Author: James Brooks
  • Updated: June 13, 2019
  • Published June 13, 2019

JUNEAU — Three weeks after warning that the Alaska Legislature’s budget impasse could interrupt Medicaid payments to doctors, clinics and other health care providers, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services is saying that payments will continue without interruption.

In a message sent to lawmakers Tuesday, the department’s legislative liaison said, “The department is pleased to confirm that the requested supplemental funding to cover the shortfall is approved.”

The message was sent the day after the Alaska Legislature approved the state operating budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

In late May, the department had warned Medicaid providers that the failure of the Legislature to approve a timely operating budget could cause Medicaid payments to stop going to doctors.

The issue was a lack of authority, not a lack of money. Each year, the state operating budget permits the Department of Health and Social Services to accept a certain amount of federal Medicaid aid. Last year, the Alaska Legislature underestimated demand for Medicaid, and the department was expected to run short of what’s known as “receipt authority” before the fiscal year ends June 30.

The state’s supplemental operating budget increases that receipt authority, though the governor has not yet signed that budget.