Governor Walker signs Medicaid reform bill into law

    Legislation will save the state over $365 million in first six years.

    Governor Bill Walker signed Senate Bill 74 into law Tuesday, making way for significant financial savings to the state and expansion of health care services offered to Medicaid recipients in Alaska. Governor Walker signed the bill at the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium in Juneau.

    Sponsored by Senator Pete Kelly of Fairbanks, SB 74 builds upon Medicaid reforms already under way and could save the state more than $365 million in the first six years. That is in addition to the millions of dollars in expected savings to the state with Governor Walker’s implementation of Medicaid expansion.

    “I thank Senator Pete Kelly and his staff for working with my administration to identify improvements that could be made to the state’s Medicaid program,” Governor Walker said. “This legislation is an example of the great things we can accomplish when we pull together to do what’s right for Alaska.”

    Some of the reform measures in this bill include expanding the use of telemedicine, expanding the use of primary care case management and health homes for people who have chronic health conditions and behavioral health needs, reforming the behavioral health system, enhancing a public/private partnership to reduce non-urgent, use of emergency room services, setting up better protections to prevent opioid dependence, and enhancing fraud detection measures.

    Other provisions include piloting health care delivery models and innovative payment models that move Alaska’s Medicaid program from paying for volume to paying for value, while considering the unique needs of Alaska.

    “We want to maximize dollars and improve the quality of health care in Alaska,” said Valerie Davidson, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services. “Reform is an ongoing process. We appreciate the broad reform authority in SB 74 that allows the Department to pursue additional reforms in the future.”

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