Alaska News

Anchorage celebrates World Refugee Day

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-06-24 15:58

Anchorage residents gathered at Mountain View Lions Park on Friday to celebrate World Refugee Day. The day honors people who have fled their home country, often because of war or ethnic persecution. About 120 refugees are resettled in Anchorage every year as part of a national program.

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Netra Dhakal dances during the World Refugee Day celebration in Anchorage.

Netra Dhakal dances to music from his home country of Bhutan. The song tells a story familiar to his parents- a boy who left his village and misses his home. Dhakal’s family was forced to leave Bhutan when he was three years old.

“The Bhutan government said, ‘You are Nepali,’” he explained. “’Because you eat Nepali, you speak Nepali, you wear Nepali dress and everything. But you are in Bhutan. So you should go to Nepal.’ They forced us to leave Bhutan so we went to Nepal. But Nepal government said, ‘You came from Bhutan. So you are not Nepali citizen, so you should go back to Bhutan.’”

The family lived in a refugee camp in Nepal for 18 years.  Dhakal said they couldn’t work and didn’t have access to things like radios, electricity, or cars. Organizations donated food, schools, and health care for the camp of 140,000 people. In 2010, they were finally relocated to Alaska.

“In the beginning it was a little hard because of English problem,” Dhakal said. “It was hard to communicate with people, go shopping, travel from place to place.”

But now, Dhakal has earned his GED and is teaching English as a Second Language.

Abdikarim Mohamud arrived in Anchorage from a refugee camp in Kenya in 2011. He was originally from Somalia. When he learned he was moving to Alaska, he said people warned him.

“People, they say, ‘You go to cold Alaska. It’s very far.’ But now I live here. It’s nice–winter and summer.”

Mohamud says he never wants to go back to live in East Africa. “No, no. I’m living here. America. I like it, so much,” he exclaimed as Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America” blasted out of the sound system.

Women from Somali take photos during the celebration.

He shares his enthusiasm with other Somali refugees by greeting them as soon as they arrive at the airport. Catholic Social Services’ refugee assistance program named him one of their volunteers of the year.

But many refugees pointed out that the celebration also recognizes nearly 17 million people worldwide who are still refugees. And with the new conflicts in Iraq, Ukraine, and South Sudan, the numbers are rising.

Peter Rom’s family fled southern Sudan into Ethiopia before he was born. He resettled in the United States 13 years ago.

“I would say thank you for God bring me here to America,” he said. “And also I feel bad for what happen in my country. A lot of people are in rural area, remote area. Yeah, it’s very difficult.”

Rom said the people there can easily get sick from malaria or diarrhea. Now, because of the war, it’s hard for them to get money or food. Rom has returned a few times on mission trips to try to help, but he says his home is now the United States.

The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement reports that more than 58,000 refugees were accepted into the country in FY2012. Only a small number can be resettled in Anchorage because of housing constraints.

Categories: Alaska News

The Top-10 Alaska Books (And Tons More) To Add To Your Reading List

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-06-24 14:30

Before this week’s Talk of Alaska about the best Alaska-based books, we opened up voting to the listeners to get their input into what the top-10 Alaska books should be.

We received tons of feedback and compiled a full list, which you can find here.

Here are the top-10 results based on online voting, comments, emails, social media, and calls we have received…starting with #10:

10) Shadows on the Koyukuk: An Alaskan Native’s Life along the River (Sidney Huntington)

In his dramatic autobiography, Alaskan elder Sidney Huntington, half-white, half-Athabascan, recounts his adventures, tragedies, and ultimate success.

 

 

 

 

 

9) One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey (Richard Proennecke)

This best-selling memoir from Richard Proenneke’s journals and with firsthand knowledge of his subject and the setting, Sam Keith has woven a tribute to a man who carved his masterpiece out of the beyond.  To live in a pristine land unchanged by man . . . to roam a wilderness through which few other humans has passed . . . to choose an idyllic site, cut trees by hand, and build a log cabin. . . to be self-sufficient craftsman, making what is needed from materials available…to be not at odds with the world, but content with one’s own thoughts, dreams and company.   Thousands have had such dreams, but Richard Proenneke lived them. This book is a moving account of the day-to-day explorations and activities Dick carried out alone….alone in the wilderness…and the constant chain of nature’s events that kept him company.

8) The Firecracker Boys (Dan O’Neil)

In 1958, Edward Heller, father of the H-bomb, unveiled his plan to detonate six nuclear bombs off the Alaskan coast to create a new harbor. However, the plan was blocked by a handful of Eskimos and biologists, who succeeded in preventing massive nuclear devastation potentially far greater than that of the Chernobyl blast. An unprecedented account of one of the most shocking chapters of the Nuclear Age.

 

 

7) The Snow Child (Eowyn Ivey)

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

6) Two Old Women (Velma Wallis)

Based on an Athabascan Indian legend passed along for many generations from mothers to daughters of the upper Yukon River Valley in Alaska, this is the suspenseful, shocking, ultimately inspirational tale of two old women abandoned by their tribe during a brutal winter famine.

Though these women have been known to complain more than contribute, they now must either survive on their own or die trying. In simple but vivid detail, Velma Wallis depicts a landscape and way of life that are at once merciless and starkly beautiful. In her old women, she has created two heroines of steely determination whose story of betrayal, friendship, community and forgiveness “speaks straight to the heart with clarity, sweetness and wisdom.”

5) Two in the Far North (Margaret Murie)

This enduring story of life, adventure, and love in Alaska was written by a woman who embraced the remote Alaskan wilderness and became one of its strongest advocates. In this moving testimonial to the preservation of the Arctic wilderness, Mardy Murie writes from her heart about growing up in Fairbanks, becoming the first woman graduate of the University of Alaska, and marrying noted biologist Olaus J. Murie. So begins her lifelong journey in Alaska and on to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where along with her husband and others, they founded The Wilderness Society. Mardy’s work as one of the earliest female voices for the wilderness movement earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

4) Where the Sea Breaks its Back (Corey Ford)

Author Corey Ford writes the classic and moving story of naturalist Georg Whlhelm Steller, who served on the 1741-42 Russian Alaska expedition with explorer Vitus Bering. Steller was one of Europe’s foremost naturalists and the first to document the unique wildlife of the Alaskan coast. In the course of the voyage, Steller made his valuable discoveries and suffered, along with Bering and the cred of the ill-fated brig St. Peter, some of the most grueling experiences in the history of Arctic exploration. First published in 1966, Where the Sea Breaks Its Back was hailed as “among this country’s greatest outdoor writing” by Field & Stream magazine, and today continues to enchant and enlighten the new generations of readers about this amazing and yet tragic expedition, and Georg Steller’s significant discoveries as an early naturalist.

3) Coming into the Country (John McPhee)

Coming into the Country is an unforgettable account of Alaska and Alaskans. It is a rich tapestry of vivid characters, observed landscapes, and descriptive narrative, in three principal segments that deal, respectively, with a total wilderness, with urban Alaska, and with life in the remoteness of the bush.

Readers of McPhee’s earlier books will not be unprepared for his surprising shifts of scene and ordering of events, brilliantly combined into an organic whole. In the course of this volume we are made acquainted with the lore and techniques of placer mining, the habits and legends of the barren-ground grizzly, the outlook of a young Athapaskan chief, and tales of the fortitude of settlers—ordinary people compelled by extraordinary dreams. Coming into the Country unites a vast region of America with one of America’s notable literary craftsmen, singularly qualified to do justice to the scale and grandeur of the design.

2) The Raven’s Gift (Don Rearden)

John Morgan and his wife can barely contain their excitement upon arriving as the new teachers in a Yup’ik Eskimo village on the windswept Alaskan tundra. But their move proves disastrous when a deadly epidemic strikes and the isolated community descends into total chaos. When outside aid fails to arrive, John’s only hope lies in escaping the snow-covered tundra and the hunger of the other survivors–he must make the thousand-mile trek across the Alaskan wilderness for help. He encounters a blind Eskimo girl and an elderly woman who need his protection, and he needs their knowledge of the terrain to survive. The harsh journey pushes him beyond his limits as he discovers a new sense of hope and the possibility of loving again.

1) Ordinary Wolves (Seth Kantner)

In the tradition of Jack London, Seth Kantner presents an Alaska far removed from majestic clichés of exotic travelogues and picture postcards. Kantner’s vivid and poetic prose lets readers experience Cutuk Hawcly’s life on the Alaskan plains through the character’s own words — feeling the pliers pinch of cold and hunkering in an igloo in blinding blizzards. Always in Cutuk’s mind are his father Ab,; the legendary hunter Enuk Wolfglove, and the wolves — all living out lives on the unforgiving tundra. Jeered and pummeled by native children because he is white, Cutuk becomes a marginal participant in village life, caught between cultures. After an accident for which he is responsible, he faces a decision that could radically change his life. Like his young hero, Seth Kantner grew up in a sod igloo in the Alaska, and his experiences of wearing mukluks before they were fashionable, eating boiled caribou pelvis, and communing with the native tribes add depth and power to this acclaimed narrative.

Categories: Alaska News

All Hope for Knik Bridge Rides on Federal Decision

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-06-24 05:26

Alaskans who want to see a bridge across Knik Arm would have envied Los Angeles last month. In a U.S. Senate hearing room, California representatives were high-fiving themselves for winning more than $2 billion to extend a subway to the city’s Westside.

“Listen to these numbers. They’re even big by Washington standards,” California Sen. Barbara Boxer boasted. “In addition to the $1.25 billion, full funding grant agreement … the Purple line extension project is also benefiting from an $856 million loan made possible by the TIFIA Program.”

That program, the Transportation Infrastructure Finance in Innovation Act, is the one Alaska hopes will lend the state more than $340 million for the Knik Bridge.

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell on Friday signed a bill to finance a $900 million bridge across Knik Arm. A decade ago, bridge proponents hoped to fund the project entirely with federal earmarks. But then Congress banned earmarks, in part due to public outrage over this bridge and another in Ketchikan, both derided nationally as “bridges to nowhere.” Now, the Knik project all depends on winning a low-interest TIFIA loan.

Boxer is one of the chief proponents in Congress of the increasingly popular lending program. Year after year, demand for TIFIA funds far outstrips supply. As Boxer explains it, the program is designed to lend the money needed to get a project started while other revenues roll in more slowly.

“Because when you put together projects like this, they’re enormous, and they’re enormously important, so you gotta use all the options at your disposal,” she says.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who flew to Washington to celebrate the federal funding agreement, thanked his senators but says the real reason his city got the money is that Angelenos reached into their own wallets first. Garcetti commended local voters for approving a 30-year sales tax to pay for transportation.

“We’re not coming here hat in hand with an empty hat. We come here to get it topped off,” he said at the podium in the U.S. Senate hearing room. “We know that in this changed landscape you have to bring something to the game in order to get more, and we consistently do.”

Alaska isn’t coming entirely hat in hand to the feds, either. A few years ago, Knik bridge proponents asked TIFIA to finance nearly half the bridge costs. But federal officials said they wanted to see more of a state commitment — more “skin in the game,” to use the metaphor that’s ubiquitous in TIFIA discussions. So now the state is asking TIFIA to cover about a third. Another third would come from other federal transportation dollars. And for the state’s third, it plans to issue up to $300 million in bonds, but only if it gets the TIFIA money first. The plan is to pay it all off with tolls, estimated at $5 per car.

If there’s not enough toll revenue left after operation and maintenance, the state treasury might be on the hook for the bonds — but not the TIFIA loan. Alaska debt manager Devon Mitchell told the state Senate finance committee this spring if tolls fall short, the feds would have to negotiate some other option.

“None of those options is going to include the state of Alaska appropriating money to pay that TIFIA debt,” he said.

Alaska Transportation development director Jeff Ottesen told state legislators the financing plan is smart for the state.

“We’re getting a chance to build this and, quite frankly somebody else is going to pay a large piece of the tab,” he said.

Ultimately, the U.S. Transportation Secretary decides which projects TIFIA will fund. The department made no one available to interview for this story. But Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, says the very reason Alaska might like the plan – limited financial commitment — makes it unattractive to federal policymakers. Ellis says Alaska isn’t really bringing revenues to the deal; it’s bringing more debt.

“People may argue these bonds are skin in the game,” he said, “but in reality it’s still somebody else’s skin.”

His group claims credit for pinning the “Bridge to Nowhere” label on the Ketchikan bridge and helped spread the taint to the Knik project as well. Last year Taxpayers for Common Sense gave the Knik project a second “golden fleece award,” a badge intended to highlight wasteful federal spending. Ellis predicts the U.S. Transportation Department won’t like the loose repayment terms Alaska is proposing.

“Certainly if you’re saying that whatever scraps are left will go to pay off the TIFIA loan, that’s going to raise up the hackles of the feds,” he says.

Knik bridge proponents shouldn’t count on Sen. Lisa Murkowski intervening with the department. She says she has concerns about the cost, the routing and the fairness of the project to other parts of the state. As far as winning TIFIA funds, she thinks it’s an uphill battle. Murkowski says it’s unfair, but nationally “big Alaska bridge project” remains synonymous with pork.

“That has clearly stuck, and you can open a newspaper here in Washington, D.C. today and you will still see reference to the ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’” Murkowski says.

A spokesman for Alaska Congressman Don Young says he’ll support the bridge for TIFIA funds. But he notes Young sent hundreds of millions of dollars to the state to build the bridge back in 2005.

“Unfortunately, the State of Alaska chose to spend the majority of that money on anything but the Knik Arm Bridge,” Young spokesman Matt Shuckerow said in an email, “and now, nearly a decade later, they are scrambling to fund the project and squabbling over financial measures that require them to beg President Obama’s bureaucrats for even more federal dollars.”

Categories: Alaska News

8.0M Quake Puts Aleutians on Tsunami Watch

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-06-23 17:15

The tsunami advisory in Unalaska has ended, after a powerful underwater earthquake in the Western Aleutians triggered tsunami alerts for parts of the Aleutian Islands Monday afternoon.

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No damages were reported after the magnitude 8.0 quake, recorded just before 1 p.m. on Monday. It happened about 30 miles northwest of Amchitka, about 60 miles underwater.

Residents in the Western Aleutians reported feeling shaking during the quake, according to the Alaska Earthquake Information Center. And the quake has set off a series of aftershocks, some as strong as a magnitude 6.

The earthquake also generated a tsunami warning from Attu to Nikolski and in the Pribilof Islands for about two hours Monday. It was then downgraded to an advisory.

The Unalaska area, from Nikolski to Unimak Pass, was also under an advisory for part of Monday afternoon. It ended around 4 p.m.

The tsunami alerts stemmed from the force of the quake. But the Earthquake Center’s Natasha Ruppert says tremors at such a depth don’t often create tsunamis.

“Based on its magnitude, there is definitely potential for tsunami in the Aleutian Islands,” she said Monday afternoon, while the alerts were in effect. “But based on its depth, I do not expect that there will be a significant tsunami from this earthquake.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration observed tsunami waves about a foot in height or less in Unalaska, Adak and other islands in the region. Those waves are measured at the highest water level above the tide level. They weren’t high enough to do any damage.

Unalaska’s Department of Public Safety told residents to avoid beaches and harbors during the advisory, but there was no full-scale evacuation to high ground.

Categories: Alaska News

Medicare Will Penalize Alaska Hospitals For Patient Safety

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-06-23 17:14

The four largest hospitals in Alaska are facing Medicare payment penalties for the quality of their care. Providence, Alaska Regional, Alaska Native Medical Center and Fairbanks Memorial are all in the bottom 25% nationally for the number of infections and serious complications patients get in their hospitals, according to data analyzed by Kaiser Health News. The penalties are part of a focus on quality care that’s included in the Affordable Care Act. 

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Central lines are IV’s inserted in veins that lead right to a patient’s heart. Infections in those lines are serious. And in 2012, Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage had 17 of them in their Intensive Care Units.

For each hospital in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ analysis, Medicare calculated a preliminary “hospital acquired-condition” score from 1 to 10 (10 is the worst.) Hospitals getting the penalty, will lose 1 percent of each Medicare payment from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2015. This data was analyzed by Kaiser Health News. (Graphic by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

“There was no one single thing, there’s no smoking gun, we were not doing x.”

Dr. Dick Mandsager is Providence’s hospital administrator. He says the hospital recognized the infections as they were happening and started paying attention to every detail for patients with central lines. In 2013, Providence had six central line infections instead of 17.

“It’s making sure that the whole bundle of care is done every single time, all the time, regardless of how pressured you are, regardless of how many things you’ve got on your mind.”

The spike in central line infections in 2012 helped push Providence into the lowest quarter of hospitals nationally for safety measures Medicare is tracking. The analysis is preliminary, but the fines are unlikely to change when the final numbers are out later this year. In Alaska, Providence has plenty of company. The state’s three other big hospitals; Alaska Native Medical Center, Fairbanks Memorial and Alaska Regional are all receiving penalties for patient safety. As a result, the hospitals will lose 1% of their Medicare payments for a year starting in October.

Julie Taylor is the new CEO of Alaska Regional. She says her hospital’s poor score is due in part to an increase in post surgical blood clots- seven total- during the year the Medicare data was pulled from.

“If you look at the percent of our total surgeries, this number isn’t alarming. But if it’s my mom, that number is alarming, even one.”

Taylor says Alaska Regional has emphasized training to bring down the rate of blood clots and other complications, which is especially important given a staff turnover rate of 20 percent annually at the hospital:

“What that means to you is that we have to retrain staff who are coming in, make sure they understand all the protocols, because this takes hard wiring. It’s not by happenstance that these things are prevented, it absolutely has to be hardwired and that’s why orientation and training and vigilance has to take place.”

Taylor applauds Medicare’s effort to track patient safety and penalize the worst performing hospitals. That’s a point all of the hospitals agree on, including Fairbanks Memorial. Gena Edmiston is Chief Nursing Officer there. She says during the last year, the hospital has had a new focus on patient safety:

“We meet every two weeks, look at every single safety incident in the hospital. We address them and then very consciously look for results.”

Edmiston says Fairbanks Memorial has seen steep drops in some areas, like central line infections. Other problems, like patient falls, have been harder to address.

All the hospitals pointed out potential problems with the way Medicare measures quality. Alaska Native Medical Center’s Jay Butler chairs the infection control committee there and says his hospital’s poor score flagged one main problem:

“The one that really stands out to us is the catheter associated urinary tract infection rate.”

Butler says many of the cases were from a type of bug that colonizes the urinary tract without causing an infection. Basically something that looks and acts like an infection, but isn’t one.  He says the hospital will address how those cases are handled.  He says the way Medicare issues hospital penalties isn’t perfect, but it’s better than nothing:

“We’ve got to track how we’re doing otherwise we have no idea whether or not we’re making progress. We wouldn’t even know whether or not we’re providing good care.”

But a Harvard health policy expert has big problems with the way Medicare is measuring quality. Professor Ashish Jha says large teaching hospitals and urban hospitals tend to get the bulk of the penalties. He thinks that may be because they’re doing a better job documenting complications compared to hospitals that aren’t even aware of errors:

“What you end up doing is penalizing hospitals that are more vigilant, that are paying closer attention, are documenting the complications and coding them in their billing data.”

Still, Jha thinks infection rates, which do not come from billing data, are important quality measures. He says hospitals should have close to zero central line infections, the problem Providence struggled with, if they’re following standard practice.

Dr. Mandsager, from Providence, says the hospital’s goal is zero central line infections, but it’s a challenge:

“I could not have predicted 20 years ago, in the measures that get publicly reported, how close you have to be to perfection otherwise you’re doing poorly comparatively. Do I feel bad about our current performance? Absolutely.”

Mandsager is confident Providence will not be in the same position during the next round of Medicare penalties. In the meantime, he says the 1% cut in Medicare payments is significant. The hospital estimates it will lose more than $500,000 in federal payments. Fairbanks Memorial Hospital calculates its lost payments could be as much as $400,000. Both Alaska Regional and Alaska Native Medical Center estimate their penalties will cost them around $200,000.

This story is part of a reporting partnership between APRN, NPR and Kasier Health News. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska Supreme Court Clears Bristol Bay Initiative For Ballot

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-06-23 17:14

An initiative that would add another roadblock to the Pebble Mine project will appear on the ballot this fall, now that a legal challenge against it has failed.

The Alaska Supreme Court issued an expedited order on Monday saying that the Bristol Bay Forever initiative was constitutional. The order comes less than two weeks after the justices heard the case. The lawsuit was brought by a coalition of mining groups, who believe the initiative is invalid because it only regulates mining in one part of the state. The Alaska Constitution does not allow statewide initiatives to deal with local matters.

But initiative sponsors and the Alaska Division of Elections defended the ballot proposition, which would require the Legislature to approve large-scale mining operations in the Bristol Bay region. They argued that the health of that watershed and its salmon fishery is an issue of statewide importance.

The Supreme Court still has to issue a formal opinion explaining their judgment, but the two-page order allows the Division of Elections to go ahead with preparing the November 4 ballot.

Categories: Alaska News

Native Voting Rights Case Kicks Off

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-06-23 17:13

A federal trial is underway to determine whether the State of Alaska does enough to serve voters who speak Native languages.

Toyukuk v. Treadwell was brought by two Alaska Native voters, along with two tribal councils. Natalie Landreth, an attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, is arguing the case. She says there’s a “huge amount” of voting information available to people who speak English, Spanish, and Tagalog, compared to the amount of materials for speakers of Yup’ik and Gwich’in. Landreth says the disparity amounts to discrimination.

“It’s not an impossible task. You hear that it’s more complicated than the defendants would like it to be, but it’s not impossible. It’s very practical,” says Landreth. “They’re choosing not to do it.”

The state is defending against that charge, arguing that the Division of Elections does want Native voters to be enfranchised but there are unique obstacles to serving some populations in the state. Assistant Attorney General Libby Bakalar notes there are only 300 speakers of Gwich’in who are capable of doing translating work for the state, and until recently the state had to clear many of its policies with the Federal Department of Justice.

“These aren’t some sort of excuses for not doing a good job,” says Bakalar. “The Division does everything it can with the resources that it has.”

The trial will last for eight days, with each side having four days to present witnesses before District Judge Sharon Gleason. The first witnesses were called by the plaintiffs, and they pointed out situations where voting materials had low readability scores. They also brought up examples of ballot measures being mistranslated, noting that in the case of a 2012 initiative that described managing coastal areas as “playing by the beach.”

Categories: Alaska News

Gov. Parnell Signs Bill To Finance KABATA

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-06-23 17:11

Governor Sean Parnell on Friday signed a bill to finance a $900 million bridge across Knik Arm, from Anchorage to Point McKenzie. Bridge proponents originally wanted to fund the project entirely with federal earmarks. But then Congress banned earmarks, in part due to public outrage over this bridge and another in Ketchikan, both derided nationally as “bridges to nowhere.” The new Knik bridge plan is contingent on low-interest loans from the federal government.

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Categories: Alaska News

Low Unemployment Limits Anchorage’s Business Growth

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-06-23 17:10

Anchorage’s unemployment rate for May is 4.9 percent, one of the lowest rates in the state. Though that may seem like a good thing, it’s actually a barrier for growth in the state’s largest city. Businesses are having trouble finding reliable workers.

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New retail stores are popping up all around Anchorage — Cabela’s, Bass Pro, an outlet mall. And with them comes hundreds of entry level jobs, which could be a problem.

In “retail right now, we’re hearing a lot of complaints about the lack of a qualified workforce,” said Bill Popp, president and CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation. ”Which is an interesting situation to be in because normally retail has some of the least difficulties finding someone who can be qualified to come in on an entry level position.”

Popp says low unemployment rates make it hard for businesses to fill the estimated 1,500 – 2,500 jobs that are currently available in the city, and he expects the rate to drop even lower by the end of the summer. But he says the problem isn’t just the lack of people seeking work, it’s a lack of reliable workers to fill low wage jobs.

“The skill sets in the individual, like the understanding of the need to show up to work on time, properly groomed and dressed. Understanding fully that they need to be able to pass a drug test, which is a very serious issue for pretty much every employer.”

Wanetta Ayers with the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development calls these work maturity skills, and she says they can be taught to both youth and adults. ”Just honestly developing an awareness of it is a start.”

Ayers says the state funds programs aimed at students, at-risk youth, and adults to help them develop the basic communication and work skills necessary to hold down a job. She says they also focus on teaching life skills to help them overcome barriers to working. “For example they may need childcare, they may need transportation, just to figure out how to structure the kind of support network to be able to show up on time and regularly.”

Ayers says some people, especially youth, aren’t employed because they don’t really understand their options. She says workers can go to one of the state’s 21 jobs centers and receive guidance.

“One of the things they help people identify is what is the right occupation for me. What are the labor market conditions? What kind of growth is there? So that they are really making an informed choice about the occupation they are choosing to go into,” she explains.

The state is currently spending $21 million on programs aimed at preparing and training the workforce and teaching people higher end skills as well.

AEDC’s survey research shows there’s also a lack of skilled workers in fields like IT and health care. Anchorage is the 23rd most expensive city in US for living, and there’s a housing shortage, so it’s hard to attract people with specialized training.

 

Categories: Alaska News

Legislation Transfers $3 Billion From State Savings To Public Employee Pension Systems

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-06-23 17:09

Surrounded by dozens of public employees in the atrium of Juneau’s State Office Building, Gov. Sean Parnell today signed legislation transferring $3 billion from state savings into Alaska’s public employee pension systems.

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Categories: Alaska News

A Mountaineering Season for the Record Books

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-06-23 17:08

This year’s mountaineering season has been one for the record books. Earlier this month, a new speed record was set on Denali. And a team of skiers knocked out back-to-back ascents of the three tallest mountains in the Alaska Range.

Ski mountaineers Anton Sponar, Aaron Diamond, Evan Pletcher and Jordan White at the summit of Mount Hunter, one of the three tallest peaks in the Alaska Range. Photo courtesy of Evan Pletcher.

For Evan Pletcher of Aspen, Colorado, summiting the three tallest peaks in the Alaska Range — that’s Hunter, Foraker and Denali — in a single expedition with three close friends was the experience of a lifetime.

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“You know, I don’t plan on topping this. Ever.” Pletcher laughs.

“That feeling, that sense of accomplishment being on top of all the mountains was incredible — and especially on Denali, being our last one. We just all kind of broke down up there and just had a pretty incredible experience. And the view from the top is pretty unreal.”

It took the team of four 31 days to do all three summits non-stop. And the going was tough.

Diamond and White taking the final steps up to the summit of Mt. Hunter. Photo courtesy of Evan Pletcher.

“Like on Mt. Hunter for instance, packs were at least 80 lbs. because we went without sleds up that mountain with 6 days of food. It wasn’t light, ever,” Pletcher says.

Pletcher’s team actually had a friend, an experienced mountaineer in Colorado, who was giving the group weather updates from afar. Pletcher said the reports were extremely accurate — critical to helping the team bag all three summits back-to-back.

“I feel that we had incredible luck and a great group. Everything just kind of worked in our favor, but yeah I can see why it hadn’t been done before. It’s very taxing — mentally, physically, and the chances of you hitting those windows when you need them are just so slim,” Pletcher says.

For another Denali mountaineer, a one-day window in clear weather was all it took for a successful summit.

Spanish mountaineer Killian Bourgada went up and down in the mountain in just under twelve hours. Eleven hours and forty minutes, to be exact. There’s no official record-keeping group for speed ascents, but nobody is raising eyebrows at Bourgada’s time. He is known for being fast. Very fast.

Coley Gentzel at the Talkeetna Ranger Station says speed ascents up Denali actually aren’t that uncommon. Bourgada’s time breaks the last record by a couple of hours.

Killian Bourgada didn’t just hop a plane to Alaska, sling a backpack over his shoulder and climb as fast as he could. There is a lot of preparation and acclimating involved in speed climbs. Gentzel explains.

“What most folks will do is to acclimate ahead of time, to sort of spend time at the higher elevations and even go to the summit for a week or two weeks or event three weeks ahead of time so that they’re acclimated. That’s the only way you can really move quickly at altitude and to ward off the potential for altitude illness is to acclimate on the mountain or on the route prior to doing your speed climb. And so that’s the method that Killian used, and that everyone else have used as well. They go on to the mountain, climb it, spend a week or two at higher elevations and then they come back to base camp to wait for a good weather window to climb up and down as fast as they can.”

Gentzel says for most of the folks attempting speed ascents are very experienced mountaineers.

Speed climbers and ski mountaineers represent a sliver of the twelve-hundred-odd climbers who tackle Denali every season.

Diamond and White beginning the long Sultana Ridge climb on Foraker. Photo courtesy of Evan Pletcher.

 

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: June 23, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-06-23 17:05

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn.

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Tsunami Warning In Effect From Attu to Nikolski

Annie Ropeik, KUCB – Unalaska

A powerful underwater earthquake in the Western Aleutians triggered tsunami alerts for parts of the Aleutian Islands Monday afternoon.

Medicare Will Penalize Alaska Hospitals For Patient Safety

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

The four largest hospitals in Alaska are facing Medicare payment penalties for the quality of their care. Providence, Alaska Regional, Alaska Native Medical Center and Fairbanks Memorial are all in the bottom 25% nationally for the number of infections and serious complications patients get in their hospitals, according to data analyzed by Kaiser Health News. The penalties are part of a focus on quality care that’s included in the Affordable Care Act.

Initiative Challenging Pebble Development Remains On Ballot

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Anchorage

An initiative that would add another roadblock to the Pebble Mine project will appear on the ballot this fall, now that a legal challenge against it has failed.

Does The State Do Enough To Serve Alaska Native Language Speakers?

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Anchorage

A federal trial has kicked off to determine whether the State of Alaska does enough to serve voters who speak Native languages.

Gov. Parnell Signs Bill To Finance KABATA

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

Governor Sean Parnell on Friday signed a bill to finance a $900 million bridge across Knik Arm, from Anchorage to Point McKenzie. Bridge proponents originally wanted to fund the project entirely with federal earmarks. But then Congress banned earmarks, in part due to public outrage over this bridge and another in Ketchikan, both derided nationally as “bridges to nowhere.” The new Knik bridge plan is contingent on low-interest loans from the federal government.

Low Unemployment Limits Anchorage’s Business Growth

Anne Hillman, KSKA – Anchorage

Anchorage’s unemployment rate for May is 4.9 percent, one of the lowest rates in the state. Though that may seem like a good thing, it’s actually a barrier for growth in the state’s largest city. Businesses are having trouble finding reliable workers.

Legislation Transfers $3 Billion From State Savings To Public Employee Pension Systems

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

Surrounded by dozens of public employees in the atrium of Juneau’s State Office Building, Gov. Sean Parnell today signed legislation transferring $3 billion from state savings into Alaska’s public employee pension systems.

A Mountaineering Season for the Record Books

Monica Gokey, KSKA – Anchorage

This year’s mountaineering season has been one for the record books. Earlier this month, a new speed record was set on Denali. And a team of skiers knocked out back-to-back ascents of the three tallest mountains in the Alaska Range.

Categories: Alaska News

Tsunami Warning In Effect From Attu to Nikolski

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-06-23 14:50

A tsunami advisory is in effect for Unalaska. The advisory stretches from Unimak Pass to Nikolski.

Public Safety says people do not need to evacuate to high ground at this time. They say residents should avoid shore areas, but don’t need to take any other action.

There is a tsunami warning in place in the Western Aleutians, from Attu to Nikolski, and for the Pribilof Islands. People in that area should move to high ground and avoid coastal areas in case of wave action.

The tsunami alerts stem from an underwater earthquake recorded just before 1 p.m. today, about 30 miles northwest of Amchitka Island in the Western Aleutians. The quake happened at a depth of about 60 miles. Preliminary magnitude estimates are between 7 and 8.

That’s a powerful quake, which automatically triggers a tsunami warning. But the Alaska Earthquake Information Center says there’s very little tsunami risk from a quake so deep underwater.

They also say the quake does not have anything to do with the volcano on watch in that area. Semisopochnoi has been experienced a series of small tremors over the past couple of weeks. But the AEIC’s Natasha Ruppert says it’s not related.

“Earthquakes that are related to volcanos are very shallow, right beneath the surface,” she says. “This one is about 100 kilometers deep.”

Again, the tsunami advisory in Unalaska does not mean residents have to take any action. A tsunami warning is in effect for coastal areas from Attu to Nikolski and in the Pribilof Islands, St. Paul and St. George.

Categories: Alaska News

Itemized Work On Gas Line Considered Confidential

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-06-23 10:13

State reimbursements to TransCanada Corp. in pursuit of a natural gas pipeline are expected to total about $330 million. But the list of the itemized project work is considered confidential.

Natural Resources department spokeswoman Elizabeth Bluemink says the list contains competitively sensitive proprietary information. She said by email that protecting “this commercially sensitive information continues to be in the state’s interest,” given work underway on a proposed liquefied natural gas project.

She said state agencies working on the project have access to the information and related work products.

With state support, TransCanada pursued a pipeline that would serve North America markets. But it gained no traction.

The two recently ended that relationship but started another in pursuit of the LNG project, which would serve overseas markets and involve other players.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: June 20, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-06-20 17:42

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn.

 

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Convicted Killer Joshua Wade Claims Responsibility for 3 Additional Murders

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

The Anchorage Police Department and FBI are investigating claims by convicted Anchorage killer Joshua Wade that he is responsible for three additional murders.

Family of Wade’s Alleged New Victim Demands Justice

Matthew Smith, KNOM – Nome

As Wade promises details about additional murders he claims to have committed, the family of one of his alleged new victims says they’re feeling their loss once again … and they’re angry Wade won’t face new charges or a trial for the murders.

House Ethics Panel Accused Don Young of Misusing Campaign Funds, Accepting Improper Gifts

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington, D.C.

The U.S. House Ethics Committee today issued a letter of reproval to Alaska Congressman Don Young for accepting multiple hunting trips as gifts in violation of the House Gift Rule. The committee says he should repay $59,000 for gifts and expenses related to 15 hunting trips between 2001 and 2013.

State Rebuffs A Challenge to Its Gay Marriage Ban

The Associated Press

The state denies its laws on marriage curb the constitutional rights of five same-sex couples suing over Alaska’s gay marriage ban.

Fairbanks Area Sees Heavy Rainfall, Flooding

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Fairbanks area has seen some impressive rainfall over the last few days. National Weather Service meteorologist John Lingass reports 2 to 3 inches around Fairbanks, and 3 to 4 inches over the hills northeast of town. The heavy rains are causing flooding along rivers.

New Placer Mining Permits Proposed

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Interior miners aren’t happy with changes proposed to federal permits for small scale placer operations that impact water resources, including wetlands. Dozens attended an Army Corps of Engineers public meeting in Fairbanks this week on the proposals.

Fishers Flock to Anchorage’s Slam’n Salm’n Derby

Joaquin Palomino, APRN – Anchorage

This weekend hundreds of fishing enthusiasts will be crowding Ship Creek in Anchorage, trying to snag a monster king salmon. The fishing frenzy is part of the slamin salmon derby, a 10-day long competition and fundraiser.

 

Categories: Alaska News

Convicted Killer Joshua Wade Claims Three More Murders

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-06-20 17:30

Law enforcement officials address the media regarding updates in the Joshua Wade case. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

The Anchorage Police Department and FBI are investigating claims by convicted Anchorage killer Joshua Wade that he is responsible for three additional murders.

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In 2009, Wade pleaded guilty to the 2007 killing of Mindy Schloss and admitted to the 2000 murder of Della Brown.

Earlier this year, Wade gave law enforcement officials information about three other murders he claims to have committed.

Joshua Wade. (APD photo)

Officials believe two cases involve the unsolved murders of 38-year-old John Michael Martin in 1994 and 30-year-old Henry Ongtowasruk in 1999. Wade also says he killed another man the same night he killed Della Brown, though that victim’s identity is unknown.

Anchorage Police Detective Sergeant Slav Markiewicz says law enforcement is investigating Wade’s claims and reexamining old evidence.

“We keep evidence in every homicide case forever; we don’t dispose of the evidence,” Markiewicz said. “There are new advances in technology, DNA; we may analyze the evidence now in ways that we were not able to do in 1994 or in 2000.”

Markiewicz was unable to go into detail about the claims, as the investigation is ongoing.

Wade had been attempting to get out of his plea agreement in the Schloss case, which could have sent the case back to trial, but he agreed to drop his request and give law enforcement details on the three additional murders if they agreed to transfer him to a federal facility outside of Alaska.

Karen Loeffler, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska, says it’s unclear why Wade requested the transfer.

“When the state came to us and the Department of Law and said, ‘Would you be willing to talk to the federal authorities about taking him,’ my answer was, ‘Who cares? He’s never gonna get out of jail. I don’t care where he serves it,’” Loeffler said. “He’s not getting anything that harms the community from us, so if we can get some closure to someone, our position was, work with the Department of Law, see what they want.”

“He doesn’t get out of jail, I don’t really care what his motivation is, I just care that he never gets out.”

Wade has been transferred to a a maximum-security federal prison in Indiana, where he will serve out the remainder of his life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Categories: Alaska News

Family of Wade’s Alleged New Victim Demands Justice

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-06-20 17:29

As Wade promises details about additional murders he claims to have committed, the family of one of his alleged new victims says they’re feeling their loss once again … and they’re angry Wade won’t face new charges or a trial for the murders.

Listen now:

Arlene Soxie lives in Nome. She says her son Henry Ongtowasruk was 30 years old and living in Anchorage when he was killed in 1999. She says she first heard about the connection to Wade in February.

“One of the detectives was talking to Joshua Wade and he confessed that he was the one that killed my son. They were able to get in touch with one family member. And that is how they contacted us. And it was like he died all over again.”

While investigators try to corroborate Wade’s claims, it’s still unclear whether he could face new charges. That, Soxie says, is not justice.

“I was wishing that there would have been a trial for the murder of my son. And I was told that there would be no trial because he’s in prison already. It seems like the law is for the people who have committed the crime and not for the family members who are left suffering.”

As for Wade, in exchange for the confession he asked prosecutors transfer him out of Alaska for the rest of his life sentence. Soxie says the idea her son’s alleged killer could bargain information to get anything at all offends her.

“It angered me. My son can’t speak for himself and to know that people in the governing system, or the law, allow things like that, it’s not right either,” she said.

Whether Wade’s claims on the additional murders prove true or false, he’ll still remain behind bars for the rest of his life:  he’s been transferred to a maximum-security federal prison in Indiana, where he will serve out the remainder of his life sentence without the possibility of parole.

 

 

 

Categories: Alaska News

Ethics Panel: Rep. Young Misused Campaign Funds, Took Improper Gifts

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-06-20 17:28

The House Ethics Committee today issued a letter of reprimand to Alaska Congressman Don Young for spending campaign money on trips to hunting lodges and improperly accepting gifts, many of them from lobbyists and related to travel.

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The letter, and the report that backs it up, focus on $56,000 worth of rides in private planes, stays at hunting lodges, golf, meals, and in one specific instance, a pair of $400 boots.  The committee says Young has to repay $28,000 to the gift-givers, and use personal funds to repay $31,000 in misused campaign funds.

Young’s spokesman said the congressman would not talk about the report today. In a written statement, Young said he regretted what he called oversights and apologized.

He’s already repaid the money.

“Some of them are tough calls,”says Young’s lawyer, John Dowd. He says the people who hosted the trips played several roles in Young’s life, so the purpose wasn’t always clear-cut. “There are people who are campaign supporters, there are people who have an interest in transportation, there are friends of his, so that all gets mixed together sometimes on these trips. Sometimes it didn’t get sorted out. Sometimes it did.”

Dowd says after the Justice Department investigation, Young laid out all the information about his travel for the Ethics Committee. The committee found Young improperly accepted gifts and 15 trips dating as far back as 2001 and as recently as last year. Most of the travel occurred from 2004 to 2006, when Young chaired the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. At the time, he was raking in campaign contributions from the construction and transportation industries around the country

The gift-givers listed in the report include former Young staffers who became lobbyists, like C.J. Zane and Duncan Smith, Texas Lobbyist Randy Delay, and Tom Johnson, an executive at the Texas branch of Associated General Contractors. Many of the trips were to Texas lodges. The most expensive on the list, more than $11,000, was to the Mariposa Ranch in south Texas, paid for mostly by Houston-based construction conglomerate KBR.

Lobbyist Duncan Smith bought the $400 Le Chameau boots. The company specializes in knee-high rubber boots lined in leather.

The ethics case against Young originated with a wide-ranging Department of Justice investigation started at least eight years ago. In 2010, the Justice Department said it wouldn’t pursue charges against Young and instead sent a letter about him to the Ethics Committee. The panel says, with such old evidence, it couldn’t find that Young’s acceptance of the trips and gifts was purposeful or corrupt. The committee, though, noted Young listed none of it on his required personal financial disclosure documents. The Committee did not recommend the harsher penalty of censure by the full House of Representatives.

Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, says the punishment amounts to a letter saying, in effect, ‘bad Congressman.”

University of Alaska political science professor Forrest Nabors says he doubts the reprimand will affect Young’s re-election in November. Violations like these aren’t important to people outside Washington, Nabors says, and anyway, Alaskans have been hearing about Young being investigated for years.

“It doesn’t seem to deter them from re-electing him,” Nabors says “He has very strong relationships in the state.”

Forrest Dunbar, the latest Democrat running against Young, has raised less than a tenth of the campaign war chest Young has. In a written statement today, Dunbar called Young a repeat ethics offender.

Read House Ethics Committee statement.

Rep. Young’s statement:

I accept the House Committee on Ethics’ report and regret the oversights it has identified.  There were a number of instances where I failed to exercise due care in complying with the House’s Code of Conduct and for that I apologize.  As the Committee indicates in its report, I never made any knowingly false statements to government officials nor did I act corruptly or in bad faith.

I have made each of the payments recommended by the Committee and have taken significant steps since 2007 to strengthen my office’s polices for compliance with the Code of Conduct to ensure that these types of oversights do not happen again.  It is through these actions that I show my colleagues and Alaskans that I fully respect the House Rules and will continue to comply with them now and in the future.

I am pleased that today’s decision represents the conclusion of an extended inquiry by both the Department of Justice and the House Committee on Ethics and I will continue to faithfully serve the people of Alaska.

 

Categories: Alaska News

State Rebuffs a Challenge To Its Ban on Gay Marriage

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-06-20 17:27

The state denies its laws on marriage curb the constitutional rights of five same-sex couples suing over Alaska’s gay marriage ban.

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The couples, four married outside Alaska and one unmarried couple, sued in federal court seeking to overturn the ban.

In a filing Thursday, there is a claim-by-claim response to the plaintiffs.

State attorneys say voters had a “fundamental right to decide the important public policy issue of whether to alter the traditional definition” of marriage.

They say Alaska isn’t required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and that, as a sovereign state, Alaska has the right to define and regulate marriage.

 

Categories: Alaska News

New State Law To Bring Back Universal Vaccine Access

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-06-20 17:26

For 30 years, Alaska maintained a universal vaccine program, where federal funding paid for all the standard shots. But in 2011, the money started drying up, leaving only the most vulnerable populations covered.

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Now, universal access to vaccines may be back, with a law that uses the state as a broker between insurance providers and pharmaceutical companies to get a bulk rate discount. At the bill signing this week, State Sen. Cathy Giessel said the idea is to make sure “all Alaskans, insured and uninsured, had access to vaccines.” On top of increasing access to vaccines, health care providers expect the law to save them time and money.

Dr. Susan Beesley is making the rounds through the offices of the Anchorage Pediatric Group. Plenty of nurses stop to say hello, and one mentions giving shots. Beesley has practiced there for five years. But right now, she’s not on the clock.

“Today, I’m here as a mom. I’m here for my two-month well-child check with my daughter Robin Beesley.”

Her baby will be getting immunized against whooping cough and tetanus, diphtheria and rotavirus.

“So, today she’s getting one oral vaccine and three shots,” says Beesley.

While getting shots may be a new thing for baby Robin, immunizations are a huge part of what the Anchorage Pediatric Group does. Beesley alone sees about 20 kids every week who get vaccines.

When Beesley first moved to Alaska in 2009, the state still had universal vaccine coverage. It didn’t matter if you were a kid, an adult, insured, or uninsured: If you were getting an ordinary vaccination, the federal government was probably footing the bill.

“Slowly over the past five years, we’ve lost that. And it’s sort of been a step-wise progression from having universal coverage to then just a couple of shots not covered universally, and then slowly, all of them have been sort of changed over to a two-tier system.”

Public funding covers about a third of the shots administered by Anchorage Pediatric Group. The rest are billed to the insurance companies or to the patient.

To avoid a billing mess, the group has to make sure the vaccines are stored according to who pays for them, even though the shots are identical. That means keeping the same exact vaccine in separate bins, in refrigeration units divided by Plexiglas. Some clinics have to spend extra money on entirely different refrigerators for different types of patients.

And no matter how organized a group is, Beesley says there are occasional mix-ups when it comes to distributing the public supply and the private one.

“Sometimes, you give accidentally private stock to a child that you later find out may have had a private insurance, but lost it, and now they’re on Medicaid,” says Beesley. “You can end up eating the cost as the practice for that vaccine.”

Those vaccines aren’t cheap. While we’re waiting for baby Robin’s appointment, Beesley grabs practice administrator Brice Alexander to explain just how much money their group spends on them.

“The cost of the vaccines some of them are upwards of $200 just for the serum itself,” says Alexander.

Alexander adds that the Anchorage Pediatric Group fronts $40,000 a month on vaccines for patients who don’t qualify for the public immunization program, before passing that cost on through patient bills.

But starting next January, the group won’t have to do that. The State of Alaska will be implementing a new system where they act as a buyer for vaccines. They’ll assess insurance companies and private practices a fee, and then use that money to buy vaccines for providers at a serious discount. In states with similar programs, access to vaccines has increased, making disease outbreaks less likely. Providers, patients, and insurance companies have saved millions of dollars.

The new system also means hospitals and clinics won’t have to segregate their vaccines anymore or bill them differently. Alexander expects that to be a time-saver.

“Not having to worry about explaining to patients why they have such a huge bill, it’s much easier to focus on, ‘Yeah, you showed up for the visit. Here’s your bill for the visit, and everything else is covered,” says Alexander.

Beesley also welcomes the change.

“The bottom line is just that it’s such an important preventive service, and we want to be able to provide exactly the same to all of our patients,” says Beesley.

While the new system should make work easier for Beesley and her colleagues, the actual shots themselves aren’t as much fun for Robin. She cries a little, but quickly stops after being patched up with some sparkly Band-Aids and being returned to her parents.

After a few more minutes, Robin is ready to go until the next round.

Categories: Alaska News
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