According to 2017 data from the Council for Community and Economic Research, health services in Alaska are 70 – 200 percent more expensive than the national average. Many pressures influence Alaska’s health-care costs. They include expenses related to recruiting providers from out of state, lack of competition, and the state’s small population.
In the 2018 legislative term, Alaska sought legislative solutions to skyrocketing healthcare costs in terms of price transparency and cost containment. The state introduced and passed HB 240, which promotes regulation and price transparency of pharmacy benefit managers. Other measures failed to pass, however, including SB 129, which limits how much an insurance company must reimburse an out-of-network provider for covered services, and HB 123, which requires providers and medical facilities to disclose the undiscounted costs of their most common procedures.
In the 2016 legislative term, Alaska passed a law which sets up a $55 million fund, financed through an existing tax on all insurance companies, to subsidize enrollees’ costs as the state struggles with Obamacare price spikes. The number of insurers offering plans to individuals in Alaska markets is set to drop to one for 2017, and state officials warned that the remaining companies couldn’t realistically raise rates high enough to cover customers’ medical bills. Alaska Governor Bill Walker said the bill would ensure that the 23,000 Alaskans enrolled in exchange plans would not suddenly lose their insurance.
The State Database
The Source tracks state activities impacting healthcare price and competition in both legislation and litigation in a searchable database to help stakeholders at the state level understand their legal and regulatory environment as they make efforts to improve access, quality, and efficiency, and reduce costs in healthcare. We currently cover bills from 2017-2019 and key statutes from each state. Search the database for specific bills, statutes or cases by using keyword, key issue category, and/or jurisdiction.
*Note: 2019 legislative session updates are currently in progress. Check back weekly for updates.
LEGISLATIVE CALENDARAlaska’s current legislative session runs from 1/15/2019 – 4/15/2019. Bills from 2019 will carry over to 2020 as part of the 2019-2020 legislative term.
REGULATION & ENFORCEMENT
- In April 2017, Department of Justice and the FTC issued a joint statement regarding proposed legislation repealing the state’s Certificate of Need (CON) laws. The agencies recommended that Alaska repeal its CON laws, which require healthcare providers to obtain state approval before expanding, establishing new facilities or services, or making certain large capital expenditures.