Advocacy and Public Policy

The Mat-Su Health Foundation theory of change calls on us to increase advocacy, community organizing and civic engagement to promote health equity and produce positive health outcomes for all Mat-Su residents. Data-driven work in the public policy arena is a key part of the systems changes we are striving for.

Advocacy Priorities

 - Support the 2020 Census to ensure an accurate count of all citizens.   

- Advocate for passage of the following bills by the Alaska legislature:

  1. Senate Bill 37 to renew Alaska's vaccine assessment program.
  2. Senate Bill 44 to allow physician assistants to provide services via telemedicine.
  3. Senate Bill 52 to update Alaska's outdated liquor laws.
  4. Senate Bill 93 and House Bill 114 to implement SHARP-3 student loan repayment for medical providers.
  5. House Bill 20 to test sexual assault exam kits within six months of collection.
  6. House Bill 22 to extend the state's Suicide Prevention Council.
  7. House Bill 29 to require health insurers to provide coverage for telemedicine.

FY2020 Alaska State Budget

The foundation established three priorities around the FY2020 State of Alaska budget currently being developed: preserve Medicaid funding while supporting meaningful Medicaid reform; preserve early childhood and Pre-K (Head Start) funding; preserve funding for housing and homelessness programs.

1. Protect Medicaid and support meaningful Medicaid reform. We have major private sector investments happening in Mat-Su to build new infrastructure for badly needed services, from behavioral health services to a psychiatric emergency department to skilled nursing and assisted living facilities.These private sector investments will create private sector jobs, but these services rely on Medicaid funding to operate. There are many ways Medicaid strengthens the health of our people, workforce and economy:

  • Medicaid is vital to keeping Alaskans healthy and working.
    • Almost 30% of the Mat-Su population benefits from Medicaid (more than 30,000).
    • Most Medicaid recipients are children, older Alaskans or people with disabilities. 44% are children, 14% are older Alaskans, 7% are disabled adults, and 1% are disabled children.
  • Nearly 60% of Medicaid recipients who are of working age are employed, but often in low wage jobs and with no access to employer-paid medical insurance.
  • Medicaid Reform is working: $140 million in state general fund savings and cost avoidance were achieved in FY 2018.
  • State of Alaska spending on Medicaid has remained almost flat since 2012; increases in enrollment have led to increases in spending, but this has been almost entirely covered by Federal dollars.
  • Alaska is now covering 79,000 more enrollees using 11% fewer State dollars than it did 4 years ago
  • Medicaid allows people to receive care in the lowest-cost setting as soon problems present rather than having to visit the emergency department.
  • Reduced provider reimbursement may lead physicians to stop accepting Medicaid patients, creating an even larger provider shortage than already exists.

2. Preserve Early Childhood and Pre-K (Head Start) Funding. In 24 community forums, Mat-Su residents stated that their number one goal was that all Mat-Su children are safe and well cared for. Early childhood programs are a key prevention strategy to ensure that happens. The proposed budget cuts $6.8 million in Head Start funding, which jeopardizes $46 million in federal match funding. In Mat-Su there will be a loss of $567,099 in State funding that may impact the $5 million in Federal match funding currently being received in Mat-Su. This could result in 60 fewer Mat-Su children being served by Head Start and 16 jobs eliminated.

3. Preserve Funding for Housing and Homeless Programs. The proposed budget cuts the Homeless Assistance Program (HAP) from $7.9 million to $950,000. Thousands of Alaskans will lose access to emergency shelter options, the opportunity to be rapidly rehoused, and homeless prevention supports such as rental and utility emergency assistance. In addition, the proposed budget cuts Special Needs Housing Grants (SNHG)  from $1.9 million to $200,000. SNHG operating funds and housing vouchers provide long-term rental assistance for seventeen successful housing programs targeting the most vulnerable homeless population. Both cuts will have significant impact on Mat-Su residents:  Valley Charities could lose $949,107 in HAP funding, and Valley Residential Services $503,334 in SNHG funding.