HSS co-chairs raise concerns about potential privatization of Alaska Psychiatric Institute

‘Privatization does not save the state money or improve operating outcomes’

ANCHORAGE – The co-chairs of the House Health and Social Services Committee today released the following statements on the Department of Health and Social Services’ feasibility study examining the potential privatization of the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, and API’s recent re-certification:

“The re-certification of the Alaska Psychiatric Institute by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services is welcome. However, API is still barely operating above 50 percent capacity, and the adolescent unit is still not open. The potential privatization of the hospital is making it difficult to recruit and retain qualified staff. If the administration is serious about getting the hospital back to full capacity, they should take privatization off the table and aggressively recruit to fill funded but vacant positions at API.

Rather than privatizing API, the Dunleavy Administration should turn its attention to the huge gap in behavioral health care services in our communities that results in too many Alaskans in emergency rooms for under-treated mental health issues. Preserving funding for Medicaid and working with providers to identify other obstacles to providing behavioral health care in Alaska would be a good place to start.”
– Rep. Ivy Spohnholz
(D-Anchorage)

“Over multiple hearings in 2018 and early 2019 about the status of API, we heard overwhelmingly from patient advocates and healthcare partners across the state about the essential role of this institution in meeting the behavioral health needs of Alaskans. We also heard from employees and stakeholder groups who expressed concerns in ensuring those who care for our most vulnerable Alaskans are also safe and protected. For these and many other reasons, in FY19 the Legislature increased staffing and operating resources for API.

While I join colleagues in sharing my appreciation for the good news that API returns to good standing with its accrediting bodies, it is vital the Department of Health and Social Services continue to prioritize increasing capacity for all units of Alaska’s sole psychiatric hospital. We should not lose focus on patient and staff safety by wasting resources on feasibility studies that have shown that privatization does not save the state money or improve operating outcomes.”
Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky
(D-Bethel)

CONTACT
Austin Baird
Communications Director, Alaska House Majority
(907) 465-9716
Austin.Baird@akleg.gov