Alaska Health Care Roundtable (Completed 2005)

Completed in 2005, the purpose of the Alaska Health Care Roundtable was to improve the health of all Alaskans by improving access, quality and cost of health care in Alaska, and by fostering individual awareness and responsibility.

Sponsored by Commonwealth North, the Roundtable wass a consortium of Alaska corporations, health care organizations and health care stakeholders.

Final Report
Icon of 2005/06 - Alaska Primary Health Care: Opportunities & Challenges 2005/06 - Alaska Primary Health Care: Opportunities & Challenges (1.1 MB)
This report is the result of a 9-monthlong study of the primary health care system of Alaska. It details current issues surrounding the cost, access and quality of primary health care in Alaska and makes many suggestions for improvement. It was chaired by Board members Marvin Swink and Dr. Tom Nighswander.

Executive Committee

Joel Gilbertson, Chair (Providence Alaska Health System)*
Martin Cary (GCI)*
Jeff Davis (Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield)*
Tom Harvey (NEA-Alaska)*
Duane Heyman (Roundtable Executive Director)
Michael Humphrey (University of Alaska)*
Commissioner Karleen Jackson (Alaska Department of Health and Social Services)
James Jordan (Alaska State Medical Association)
Marilyn Walsh Kasmar (Alaska Primary Care Association)
Dr. Richard Mandsager (Director, Public Health, State of Alaska)
Joel Neimeyer (Rasmuson Foundation)*
Dr. Tom Nighswander (Commonwealth North)
Fran Ulmer (Institute of Social and Economic Research, UAA)
Jon Watkins (Anchorage Community Mental Health Services)*
Lon Wilson (The Wilson Agency)*
Lori Wing (Arctic Slope Regional Corp.)*
Jim Yarmon (Commonwealth North)
*Indicates Roundtable Underwriter

Themes and Priorities

1. Themes for 2006


  • Healthier Alaskans
    Health care is not an end in itself-the real goal is healthy Alaskans.
  • Make health care more affordable in Alaska
    Recent cost increases are unsustainable for individuals, employers, governments and society. Prevention is the long-range answer, supplemented
    by logical shorter-term steps that do not undermine prevention.

Action areas:

  • Focus on Alaskan improvements
    Alaskans have little control over national health care structures and policies. However, there are many actionable opportunities right here in Alaska. Massachusetts has shown what may be possible politically.
  • Support individual responsibility
    Prevention will have maximum health and economic benefits only if individuals have the tools and knowledge to accept responsibility for their own health.
  • Transform the system
    Business as usual is unacceptable. A combination of best clinical and administrative practices along with judicious investments that improve how the system operates is imperative.

2. Immediate priorities

  1. Develop a comprehensive list of all health care initiatives in Alaska to avoid overlaps and fill gaps
  2. Expand the United Benefit Advisors survey of Alaska employers to create better corporate health care comparison information
  3. Premera/University of Alaska health risk management plan summit for businesses to learn how to help employees become healthier and save money
  4. Citizen’s and Stakeholder’s Forum
    UAA, Alaska 20/20, the League of Women Voters, Alaska Common Ground, Commonwealth North and others are exploring creating a Forum process to engage citizens and public officials to improve access, quality and cost of health care in Alaska.
  5. ISER Convocation on best state public policy practices around the U.S.
    The Roundtable is working with ISER on a convocation to bring up national experts on health care systems to inform Alaska businesses and stakeholders
    on best practices around the country.
  6. Expand University medical classes
    Alaska already has a shortage of trained health care professionals. With an ageing workforce the problem will only get worse. Expanding the supply of professionals is a mathematical and functional necessity.
  7. Electronic health records
    General agreement that this is a transforming lynchpin to an improved system. Support research infrastructure to ensure maximum compatibility with evolving national systems.
  8. Other topics discussed

* Efforts to minimize junk food in schools and encourage exercise.
* “211” centralized one-point-of-contact for social and medical service needs.
* Centralized one-point-of-contact at the state level to coordinate federal and other grant applications.
* Health care workforce development and recruiting in Alaska is desperately needed.
* Weight management programs (e.g. employer’s Weight Watcher)
* Municipality of Anchorage non-smoking workplace ordinances.