Walker administration proposes Medicaid reforms outlined in recent report

A new version of a Medicaid bill from Gov. Bill Walker's administration would institute some of the reform recommendations for the $600 million program outlined in a recent report to the Alaska health department.

The substitute for Walker's Senate Bill 78 would require creation of a system to make sure Medicaid patients have day-to-day health care providers overseeing their care. It would create an analytics initiative to help the health department share data with medical providers.

It would allow the state health department to work with providers on initiatives aimed at cutting down on non-emergency use of the emergency room by Medicaid patients.

And it would also allow the health department to contract with medical providers who band together to provide care for groups of Medicaid patients, with the providers getting to keep some of the savings if they can reduce the cost of care — and being held responsible for a portion of cost overruns if they occur.

Those recommendations were all outlined in a consultant's report to the health department released last week. The report is aimed at redesigning the state's Medicaid program to save money and make it more geared toward paying for results and efficiency instead of paying for individual appointments and procedures.

The substitute bill from the Walker administration was unveiled Wednesday morning at a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, which is also considering a separate Medicaid reform bill, Senate Bill 74, from Sen. Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, the committee's co-chair.

At the hearing, Sen. Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River and the other finance committee co-chair, announced that both the Walker administration bill and the Kelly bill would be referred to a new Medicaid subcommittee that she'll chair.

Other members of the subcommittee are Kelly and Sens. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna; Donny Olson, D-Golovin; and Cathy Giessel, R-Fairbanks.

"The finance committee is trying to stay focused and fast-tracked on the budget at a higher level," MacKinnon said.

Nathaniel Herz

Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He’s been a reporter in Alaska for nearly a decade, with stints at ADN and Alaska Public Media. He’s reported around the state and loves cross-country skiing.