News from the Senate Majority
Alaska State Legislature

Wendy Lindskoog, Senate Majority Press Secretary
State Capitol
Juneau, AK 99801-1182
Phone: 907/465-4582
Broadcast Actualities: 800/478-6540

Senate Funds Catastrophic Illness Assistance Program

For Immediate Release: April 28, 1998 Contact: Senator Sean Parnell at (907) 465-2995.

Juneau – During debates on amendments to the operating budget (HB 325 and HB 326) Tuesday, the Senate voted to fund the Catastrophic Illness Assistance Program. The Senate amendment moved $1.9 million from the General Relief Medical Program to the Catastrophic Illness Assistance Program -- a special program created to reimburse health care providers who treat impoverished Alaskans for catastrophic, chronic and acute illnesses.

"By funding the Catastrophic Illness Assistance Program, we are ensuring that the Department of Health and Social Services spends these dollars on catastrophic, acute and chronic needs," said Senator Sean Parnell, sponsor of the amendment.

The Catastrophic Illness Assistance Program, in statute since 1978, was designed to allow the Department of Health and Social Services to reimburse health care providers for costs incurred in the treatment of a person suffering a catastrophic illness or accident (AS 47.08).

"The Department has failed to ensure that funding under General Relief Medical went only to the needs of the catastrophic and chronically ill," said Parnell. "Instead, the Department reimbursed providers for services that could have been funded through other programs. By doing so, the Department took funds from the poor who suffer from serious illnesses."

"This funding will help ensure that health care providers who are treating impoverished Alaskans for serious medical needs such as chemotherapy and chronic diabetes, will have some opportunity for reimbursement," said Parnell.

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= Sean Parnell, 20 K