Alaska to present at Senate health care hearings

One of the signs carried by a demonstrator outside of the Union Hall on Main Street on June 10 read, “If you care, protect healthcare.” Photo by Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson/The Cordova Times

FAIRBANKS — Director of the Alaska Division of Insurance Lori Wing-Heier will be one of the presenters before a Senate committee on health care.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will begin hearings next week on health care, hearing testimony from directors and commissioners from several states.

The other four presenters are from Tennessee, Washington, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (http://bit.ly/2vkR4h2).

Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Ranking Member Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, announced earlier this month that the committee would hold a series of hearings in September on stabilizing premiums in the individual insurance markets.

The first hearing “Stabilizing Premiums and Helping Individuals in the Individual Insurance Market for 2018: Insurance Commissioners,” will be held Sept. 6.

Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski says Alaska has one of the highest costs for health care. She says lowering these costs is an important goal of hers.

“In the past two years, insurance premiums in the individual market have increased almost 80 percent,” Wing-Heier wrote in an article last year. Wing-Heier was appointed director of the Alaska Division of Insurance in 2014.

Wing-Heier noted that Alaska is one of the most subsidized health care markets, bringing in nearly $10 million per year from government. These premiums and rates need to balance out for the state of Alaska, she said last month.