Consultant hired to help with Medicaid reforms

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Tuesday, July 21, 2015 10:29pm
  • News

JUNEAU, Alaska — The state health department has hired a consultant to help recommend next steps as Gov. Bill Walker’s administration plans to implement Medicaid expansion and looks to make further changes to the existing Medicaid program.

The contract with Agnew::Beck Consulting LLC calls for a finalized report in January recommending alternative Medicaid expansion models and options to help contain costs within the Medicaid program. A report due in May would address a timeline and costs for carrying out the recommendations. The company is to include as part of its work a process for gathering input from stakeholders. The contract, signed last month, has a budget of about $440,000.

Additional consulting help, related to home- and community-based services, also is being sought by the department.

Department officials say they will be building on reform efforts already under way, including work to control overutilization of emergency room services. Alaska’s Medicaid program is a driver of the state budget and widely seen as unsustainable in its current form.

Walker last week announced his plans to accept federal money for Medicaid expansion after lawmakers earlier this year tabled his proposal to expand and make changes to the program. State law spells out a process by which a governor goes through the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee when seeking to spend more in federal or other funds on a budget item than allocated by the Legislature. Even if the panel disagrees, the governor can proceed with his plans.

Senate President Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, said he believes Walker has a legal right to take the actions he’s taking and that it wouldn’t do any good for lawmakers to try to challenge it. But he said there remain questions, including whether there are enough health care providers for the thousands of new people expected to enroll in expanded Medicaid, and that Walker is “probably a little bit premature” in moving to expand Medicaid now.

Meyer’s Republican-led caucus was split on Medicaid expansion during session and he said Tuesday that it may be too early to give a caucus position on possible next steps.

“My personal thought is that we should just go ahead and accept the governor did what he did and then try to manage the cost the best we can going forward,” he said.

The state Republican party, in a statement last week, said Walker “risks bankrupting Alaska” with his decision and that he “owns the entire risk and outcomes of his misadventure.”

Walker is planning to meet later this week to discuss expansion with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell while attending a National Governor’s Association event in West Virginia, his spokeswoman Katie Marquette said by email.

More in News

Kenai Fire Marshal Jeremy Hamilton is seen by one of Kenai Fire Department’s Tower trucks on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 at Kenai Fire Department in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Get up, get out and get safe’

Kids taught about fire safety as part of prevention effort

Bob Bird, left, chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party, and former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman make the case in favor of a state constitutional convention during a debate in Anchorage broadcast Thursday by Alaska Public Media. (Screenshot from Alaska Public Media’s YouTube channel)
Constitutional convention debate gets heated

Abortion, PFD factor into forum.

Carol Freas (right) helps a voter fill out absentee election materials in Kenai City Hall ahead of the Oct. 4 municipal election on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Absentee voting already underway

Absentee in-person voting has been made available across the borough

Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara
Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara
What’s on the ballot: Reapportionment, new field house, school bond

Voters will decide on ballot measures that address schools, public safety and legislative bodies

Cars line up ahead of dismissal at Mountain View Elementary School on Thursday, September 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. A bond package up for consideration by Kenai Peninsula Borough voters on Oct. 4 would fund improvements to the school’s traffic flow. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Parking lot problems

Lack of space for pickup and drop-offs creates traffic jam at elementary school

Soldotna Elementary School Principal Dr. Austin Stevenson points out elements of the school building on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Aging school on the brink

Renovations are cost prohibitive at Soldotna Elementary

Rep. Mary Peltola, an Alaska Democrat, delivers a speech on the U.S. House floor before Thursday’s vote approving her first bill, establishing an Office of Food Security in the Department of Veterans Affairs. It passed the House by a 376-49 vote, although its fate in the Senate is undetermined. (Screenshot from official U.S. House video)
Poll: Peltola’s a popular pol

Food for vets bill passes House, pollster says she is “the most popular figure in Alaska right now.”

A parking sign awaits the new executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund at its Juneau headquarters, Three finalists will be interviewed for the job during a public meeting Monday by the fund’s board of trustees, who are expected to deliberate and announce the new director immediately afterward. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Interviews, selection of new Permanent Fund CEO set for Monday

Three finalists seeking to manage $73.7B fund to appear before trustees at public meeting in Juneau

Principal Sarge Truesdell looks at cracked siding outside of Soldotna High School on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. The siding is one of several projects in a bond package Kenai Peninsula voters will consider during the Oct. 4 municipal election. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Split siding at SoHi

The damage has been given patchwork treatment over the years

Most Read