Health care costs in Alaska have traditionally been significantly higher than the costs of comparable services in the lower forty-eight. In addition, while the nation’s health care costs have, in recent years, decreased in their growth rate, Alaska has not experienced a similar reduction.
The cost of medical care in Alaska has grown at a rate that is 10 per cent above inflation, with the particular costs of acute and long term care showing even greater increases. While it is essential that the health care industry in Alaska remain vital, in order to provide access to health care services for all Alaskans, the state must insure judicious spending patterns in these years of a declining/consolidating economy.
It is important that the state define what it considers to be an acceptable level of access to health care, with particular concern for Alaska’s rural and indigent populations. In a period when a majority of states are exploring options for providing indigent care, reducing uncompensated care, and providing health insurance options to its uninsured citizenry, Alaska finds itself in an opposite position, having to eliminate or reduce long standing programs (like the Catastrophic Illness and General Relief Medical Assistance Programs) which have had a history of improving the health status of Alaskans.
It is in the best interests of the people of Alaska, and necessary for the efficient administration of government, that a review be conducted of the causes of increasing health care costs in Alaska, and that the Governor and the Legislature be advised of the status of Alaska’s health care delivery system.
Therefore, I, Steve Cowper, Governor of the State of Alaska, under the authority of Article III of the Alaska Constitution and of AS 44.19.028, AS 44.19.145(c) and AS 44.17.060, order the following:
Section 1. Creation and Composition.
The Governor’s Interim Commission on the Status of Health Care and the Health Care Industry in Alaska (hereafter Governor’s Interim Health Care Commission) is hereby created within the Department of Health and Social Services. The commission consists of the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services and the following members whom I have appointed: (1) one member of the finance committee and one member of the health, education and social services committee of each house of the legislature; and (2) six members of the public knowledgeable in or experienced in the provision of health care services in the state.
Section 2. Responsibilities.
The Governor’s Interim Health Care Commission shall examine the causes of increasing health care costs, review laws and regulations relating to health care in the state, review the relevant efforts of other states to contain health and medical care costs, and make recommendations regarding legislation or regulations which may be necessary to reduce the cost of health care and to increase the effectiveness of health care delivery systems to the residents of the state, especially the indigent.
Section 3. Report.
The Governor’s Interim Health Care Commission shall submit a report to me and the Legislature by March 1, 1988.
Section 4. Duration.
The Governor’s Interim Health Care Commission shall cease to exist on May’ 10, 1988, unless it is extended by subsequent administrative order or legislation.
This order takes effect immediately.
DATED at Juneau, Alaska, September 18th, 1987
By: S/S Steve Cowper
Governor of the State of Alaska