State seeks outside consultant for Medicaid overhaul plans

ANCHORAGE (AP) — Alaska is seeking an outside consultant to review the potential benefits of its plans to overhaul Medicaid, officials said.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services issued a request for proposals last week, offering up to $100,000 for a “proof of concept” analysis completed by the end of June, The Anchorage Daily News reported Monday.

The agency wants input regarding its “potential model” for altering Medicaid, Deputy Commissioner Donna Steward said.

“It’s a request for a consultant with experience working on Medicaid transformation in other states to review the proposal as outlined and provide consultation and expertise on whether it’s something that could be helpful for Alaska,” she said.

Alaska wants to control health care costs and insurance premiums that are among the highest in the nation, the request said. More than 200,000 Alaskans receive Medicaid coverage.

A detailed analysis over six months or a year will occur if the agency decides to prepare a federal waiver application to make changes, Steward said.

The state may shift relatively healthy Medicaid recipients to subsidized private insurance plans and set work requirements for some.

Another consideration is an application for a federal block grant for Medicaid, something no other state has previously used.

A block grant would cap federal Medicaid funds and Alaska could be forced to pay more or cut services, provider rates or access if expenses exceed the cap, said Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association President Becky Hultberg.

“It’s difficult to understand why a state would want to accept that increased level of risk,” Hultberg said.