Comments sought on Alaska Medicaid revision

It is important for everyone to examine the proposed changes. Previously, the governor pushed the Medicaid program in rural areas off onto the tribal health consortia. The reasoning was that tribes receive higher rates of Federal refunds for Medicaid recipients than does the state. Therefore, to save money for the state, Medicaid programs would be transferred.

The result, however, was that even long-term service providers had to close. Public services were consolidated into a single agency. Tribal agencies are restricted to providing services for only certain residents, i.e., only to registered recipients of member tribes. However, for only some services, non-members can receive health assistance. Non-members have no representation in the agency’s or health corporation’s governance. Thus, the state dropped its responsibility to all rural citizens; the tribal organizations had to assume the state’s role and the extra work of NGOs (and the extra costs of re-structuring)… Overlap and inefficiencies should be avoided in most cases; however, complementary services, citizen representation, and alternatives to monopolies are also valuable. The question is how to best balance everything.

Note carefully, workshops will NOT will get closer than Fairbanks to rural Alaska. Neither will the hearings.

The proposed regulations are 350 pages and contained in a PDF file.

The state Department of Health and Social Services is taking public comment on comprehensive restructuring of regulations governing Alaska’s Medicaid program.

The program provides health care coverage for low-income, elderly and disabled Alaskans and represents the second-largest annual expenditure of state funds after support for public schools.

The goal of the revisions is to accurately document current department policies and to restate the regulations in a more logical and user-friendly fashion.

While the proposed revisions include Medicaid policy clarifications, the department intends to put the new regulatory structure in place before proposing significant new policy initiatives.

Written comments on the proposed regulations will be accepted through Oct. 31 deadline. Public hearings have been set for Oct. 17 in Juneau and Fairbanks and Oct. 19 in Anchorage.

These hearings will include call-in capability for people who wish to participate from elsewhere in the state. In addition, a series of workshops on the proposed regulations will be conducted Sept. 12, 14 and 15.

For more information on the public hearing and workshops, information on how to submit written comments, and a copy of the proposed regulations and supporting documents, see the department’s regulations Web site at www.hss.state.ak.us/publicnotice/regulations.cfm#Proposed, or call Kurt West at 465-3228.”

http://www.adn.com/life/health/story/8002821p-7895898c.html


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