Alaska: The Only State to Decline Federal HIX Funding

Eric Wicklund | Government Health IT | March 9, 2012

...Alaska, behind Republican Gov. Sean Parnell, is one of the more adamant opponents to President Barack Obama’s healthcare insurance exchange mandate – it’s the only state to not even apply for a $1 million federal grant to help develop state exchanges. Still, in January, state officials are spending about $200,000 to hire the Boston-based Public Consulting Group to study the state’s options.

Conversely, federal officials see Alaska as a top candidate to prove the success of health information exchange. The nation’s least densely populated state – and one of the most rugged – has a strong provider-payer network in place, supported by the non-profit, multi-stakeholder Alaska eHealth Network, and enjoys across-the-board support for telemedicine initiatives. Analysts say that because the state’s telemedicine and HIE efforts are working so well, many Alaskans feel they can have the same success with an insurance exchange.

While most Alaskans have some form of health insurance coverage – significant percentages of the state’s population are either government-employed or members of Native American tribal organizations – almost 20 percent lack health insurance, according to a 2010 Kaiser poll...