News from the Alaska State Legislature, the Office of Senator Wilson
For Immediate Release: August 06, 2018

New Alaska Law Improves Behavioral Healthcare, Saves Money

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ANCHORAGE – Today, a bill to increase Alaskans’ access to affordable behavioral healthcare and save state dollars was signed into law. 

SB 105, sponsored by Sen. David Wilson (R-Wasilla), adds licensed marital and family therapists to the list of independent licensed practitioners in Alaska to address the shortage of Medicaid-eligible behavior health care providers.

The bill expands behavioral health treatment options for Medicaid clients in a clinical setting as opposed to a crisis emergency room setting. Treating Medicaid patients in a clinical setting is much less costly than what the state currently pays for emergency room visits. Expanded treatment options should reduce the cost of the state’s Medicaid program.   

“SB 105 will increase the number of behavioral health providers in Alaska, give more affordable options to patients, and improve behavioral healthcare,” said Sen. Wilson.

Behavioral health therapy treatment addresses a patient’s mental health disorders, including substance abuse, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders, anger issues, and other conditions.

Currently, licensed marital and family therapists are only allowed to provide services in community health clinics or physician mental health clinics, which limits the number of willing providers. SB 105 expands medical assistance reimbursement services to cover those services provided by independent marital and family therapists directly.

The bill received the support of the Alaska Board of Marital and Family Therapy, the Mat-Su Health Foundation, the Primary Care Association, and emergency room physicians.

For more information, contact Senate Majority Press Secretary Daniel McDonald at (907) 269-0147.

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