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Legislation Signed into Law

2017-2018

Primary Focus: Mandated Benefit-Telehealth
Title/Description: Medical Assistance Supervision
Citation:  AS 47.07.030
Summary: This law allows for the requirement that behavioral health clinic services be provided under Medicaid be done by or under the direct supervision of a qualified physician either in person or by a communication device. Additionally, the law defines “direct supervision” for purposes of such services.
Effective Date: November 27, 2018
Notes: Enacted through S.B. 169

Primary Focus: Mandated Benefit-Provider
Title/Description: Licensure of Marital and Family Therapists
Citation: AS 08.63.100; AS 08.63.120; AS 18.15.360; AS 18.23;
Summary: This law allows marital and family therapists to be eligible for optional Medicaid coverage. Additionally, the law requires the Department of Health and Social Services prepare a report that describes the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of the coverage of marital and family therapy.
Effective Date: Effective January 1, 2019
Notes: Enacted through S.B. 105

Primary Focus: Provider Guidelines for Opioid Prescribing
Title/Description: Title 8: Business and Professions Licensing Requirements
Citation: AK Stat § Title 8
Summary: This amendment to the Alaska’s medical licensing provisions limits for an initial opioid prescription to four or seven days depending on the clinical indicators and guidelines. Dentists, physicians, and other providers are subject to annual training requirements on pain management as well. The goal of the amendment is to follow the federal CDC guidelines state that a three-day initial prescription of an opioid is sufficient for most cases of acute pain. The amendments do allow practitioners to use their professional judgment in each case and not interpret the seven-day limit as a direction to prescribe the full seven days or the four-day limit as a direction to prescribe the full four days.
Effective Date: Amendment effective on July 25, 2017.
Notes: The Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development may adopt regulations necessary to implement the changes made by this Act. The regulations take effect under AS 44.62 (Administrative Procedure Act). Amended by 2017 AK H 159.

2015-2016

Primary Focus: Promoting Evidence-Based Mental Health Services & Telehealth
Title/Description: Medical Assistance Reform Program
Citation: AK Stat § 47.05.270 (2017)
Summary: The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services shall, in coordination with the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, efficiently manage a comprehensive and integrated behavioral health program that uses evidence-based, data-driven practices to achieve positive outcomes for people with mental health or substance abuse disorders and children with severe emotional disturbances. The program shall include:
• A plan for providing a continuum of community-based services to address housing, employment, criminal justice, and other relevant issues;
• Services from a wide array of providers and disciplines, including licensed or certified mental health and primary care professionals; and
• Efforts to reduce operational barriers that fragment services, minimize administrative burdens, and reduce the effectiveness and efficiency of the program.
In addition, the department must identify how telehealth services would be most effective in reducing the costs of medical assistance and improving access to health care services for medical assistance recipients. The department shall make efforts to improve access to telehealth for recipients in designated locations that are determined to need assistance.
On or before November 15 of each year, the department shall prepare a report and submit the report to the senate secretary and the chief clerk of the house of representatives and notify the legislature that the report is available.
Effective Date: Amendment adopted June 21, 2016. No effective date listed (assume upon enactment).
Notes: These provisions update the Alaska’s Social Welfare Code Title 47.

Primary Focus: Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder State Fund
Title/Description: Section 56. Use of Money in the Mental Health Trust Settlement Income Account.
Citation: AK Stat § 47.30.056
Summary: This law established an integrated comprehensive mental health program. Specifically, the mental health trust settlement income account funds a wide range of mental health and substance abuse disorder services for Alaska residents. Among other obligations, the fund shall provide for a reasonable level of necessary services who are mentally ill, including:

• schizophrenia;
• delusional (paranoid) disorder;
• mood disorders;
• anxiety disorders;
• somatoform disorders;
• organic mental disorders;
• personality disorders;
• dissociative disorders;
• other psychotic or severe and persistent mental disorders manifested by behavioral changes and symptoms of comparable severity to those manifested by persons with mental disorders listed in this subsection; and
• persons who have been diagnosed by a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist, or physician licensed to practice medicine in the state and, as a result of the diagnosis, have been determined to have a childhood disorder manifested by behaviors or symptoms suggesting risk of developing a mental disorder listed in this subsection.

The law defines an “integrated comprehensive mental health program” with specific types of coverages including emergency care on a 24-hour services, inpatient care, prescriptions and medication monitoring, substance use services, care management, daily living skills training and other designated services.
Effective Date: Original date 1994; amendment adopted May 4, 2016. No effective date listed (assume upon enactment).
Notes: The funds allocated to the mental health trust settlement income account established in AS 37.14.036 shall be used as provided in AS 37.14.041. The last amendment was May 4, 2016, which required the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education to make recommendations regarding the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority regarding integrated comprehensive mental health program for Alaska residents. This law was initially enacted in 1994 and includes some outdated language in terms of how MH/SUD conditions are described.

HB 234
Introduced: 1/2016
Sponsor: Rep. Vasquez
Status: Signed into law 6/2016
Summary: This bill amends the section of state insurance law so that individual and group insurers must provide coverage for mental health benefits provided through telehealth by a licensed provider and prohibits any requirement of in-person contact between the beneficiary and the provider before the payment is made.

2013-2014

HB 292
Introduced: 2/2014
Sponsor: Revisor Bill
Status: Signed into law 4/2014
Summary: Among many other things, this bill changed the state insurance law so that plans now have to “comply with the mental health or substance use disorder benefit requirements established” by the Federal Parity Law.

2011-2012

SB 74
Introduced: 1/2011
Sponsor: Many (click on linked bill number to see the sponsors)
Status: Became law 6/2012
Summary: In addition to creating an autism task force in the Alaska State Legislature, this bill created the section of the state insurance law about autism coverage (that section is summarized at the bottom of this page under “Alaska Parity Law,” “Autism Coverage”).

Alaska Parity Law

There are several sections of the state insurance law relevant to parity. There are two sections about behavioral health coverage, a very brief section about mental health coverage, and a section about autism coverage.

Behavioral Health Coverage

This section requires small employer fully-insured plans and large employer fully-insured plans to “comply with the mental health or substance use disorder benefit requirements established” by the Federal Parity Law.

Substance Use Disorder Coverage

This section requires large employer fully-insured plans and small employer fully-insured plans with more than 5 employees to offer optional coverage for substance use disorder services. There are no further details in this section about the nature of this coverage.

Autism Coverage

This section requires individual plans,large employer fully-insured plans, and small employer fully-insured plans with more than 20 employees to cover autism services through age 20.

Financial requirements for autism services must be the same as those in place for other medical services.

Plans cannot have any limits for outpatient visits.

Autism spectrum disorder is defined as “pervasive developmental disorders, or a group of conditions having substantially the same characteristics as pervasive developmental disorders, as defined in the DSM-IV-TR, as amended or reissued from time to time.”

Treatment for autism is listed as (these are all defined in the law):

  • Habilitative or rehabilitative care (includes applied behavior analysis )
  • Pharmacy care
  • Psychiatric care
  • Psychological care
  • Therapeutic care

Small employer fully-insured plans with 21 to 25 employees can file for an exemption if compliance with this section caused premium costs to increase by at least 3% in a 12-month period.

Get Support

Alaska Insurance Division

Common Violations

In seeking care or services, be aware of the common ways parity rights can be violated.

Common Violations

Definition

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