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Begich Hosts Alaska Health Care Working Group

Military, State, Federal agencies come together for progress

In an effort to improve coordination and services for Alaskans in a variety of health care arenas, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich convened a meeting this week to address a broad range of issues and challenges facing Alaskans seeking federal health care services.

At the Monday afternoon meeting, Begich met with senior health care leaders from the military, Alaska Federal Health Care Partnership, and the State of Alaska to discuss a Begich amendment to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The amendment specifically establishes an "Interagency Task Force to Assess and Improve Health Care in Alaska."

"Our goal is to bring together leaders from a variety of agencies and sectors who deliver health care to Alaskans and to see how we can be more efficient and coordinated and to also minimize the bureaucracy and red tape," Begich said.

Agencies represented at this initial meeting included the U.S. Air Force 3rd Medical Group; U.S. Army Medical Command; the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium; TRICARE Management Office; the Governor's Office; the State Medicaid Director; leadership from the Federal Health Care Partnership; and the Alaska Health Care Commission.

The actual formation of the Task Force will not occur until the final health reform bill is voted on and approved. Some of the areas the group has agreed to focus on include:

·         Expanding the capabilities and capacities at existing federal treatment facilities;

·         Developing primary care networks;

·         Evaluate the impact of competing reimbursement rates;

·         Identify ways to increase the number of health care professionals in Alaska;

·         Increase interagency collaboration;

·         Increase efficient delivery with particular emphasis on rural Alaska.

"My goal with the task force is to alleviate challenges faced by Alaskans who access health care through federal programs, and enhance and support the efforts of the agencies to expand health care in Alaska," Begich added. "Bringing all of the critical players together will give us a better opportunity to figure out the problem areas and find solutions."

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