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Senate Votes to Increase Access to Behavioral Healthcare


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Credit: Storyblocks

JUNEAU—The Alaska Senate unanimously passed a bill to increase Alaskans’ access to behavioral healthcare. 

SB 105 adds licensed marital and family therapists to the list of independent licensed practitioners in Alaska to address the shortage of Medicaid-eligible behavior health providers.

“SB 105 will increase the number of behavioral health providers in Alaska, give more options to patients, and increase access to behavioral healthcare,” said Sen. David Wilson (R-Wasilla), the bill’s sponsor.

In addition to mental health, behavioral healthcare addresses a patient’s physical health, including substance abuse and other addictions.

Currently, licensed marital and family therapists are only allowed to provide services in community health clinics or physician mental health clinics, which limits the number of willing providers. SB 105 expands medical assistance reimbursement services to cover those services provided by independent marital and family therapists directly.

The bill received the support of the Alaska Board of Marital and Family Therapy, the Mat-Su Health Foundation, the Primary Care Association, and emergency room physicians.

SB 105 is now on its way to the Alaska House of Representatives for consideration.

 

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