SB172 passed in the final days of the Alaska Legislative session, extending the life of the Alaska Health Care Commission until 2014. For Alaskans, that’s a good thing. The Commission, which is now established by statute within the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, was created to address many of Alaska’s health care reform needs in the state. The Commission will provide recommendations for and to cultivate the development a statewide plan to address the quality, accessibility, and availability of health care for all Alaskans.
By January 15 of each year, the Commission will submit to the Governor and the Alaska Legislature an annual report of recommendations and activities. In broad terms, improving the health of each Alaskan is ultimately the goal of the Commission. As a coordinating and planning body, the Commission will be able to make recommendations to the Governor and Alaska Legislature on a comprehensive statewide health care policy and on strategies for improving the health of Alaskans.
In its first Strategic Plan report, the Commission identified four health care goals for a transformed Alaskan health care system. The first goal is to improve access to (a) affordable health care insurance coverage and (b) the services of a health care delivery system that is on its own, a healthy, vigorous system.
The second goal, in an effort to contain costs, is to address the state’s high medical inflation rate so that it is at least below the national rate. The third goal is to guarantee that health care services throughout Alaska are of the highest quality and safety standards. And the fourth goal established by the Commission is to focus on prevention, which will ultimately save contain costs.
Coordinating health care needs of Alaskans will be the responsibility of the Alaska Health Care Commission. They are tasked with collaborating with public and private sector partners, including municipalities, Alaska Native organizations, health care providers, and health insurers, within the public health system to achieve the mission of public health. What decisions are made for Alaskans should be made by Alaskans and the passage of SB172 was a good thing. But the Commission will still have to follow federal law as they develop a statewide health plan consistent with state law.
AARP is well represented on the Health Care Commission. Keith Campbell of Seward, former Chairman of AARP’s national board of directors serves on the Commission. Campbell represents consumers on the Commission. Campbell, who has lived in Seward since 1971, is also the retired CEO of the Seward General Hospital.