Monthly Archives: September 2005

Feds Negotiate Lower Drug Prices Than Private Sector

As implementation of the new Medicare prescription drug program draws near, both conservatives and liberals in Washington are fretting over the potential cost of the program. To deal with this problem, congressional architects of the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) created a program in which private companies would negotiate directly with drug companies to obtain discounts and pass them on to consumers—while barring the government from doing the same. Now that the first phase of the program—a temporary discount card program that began in June 2004 and ends next January—has been in effect for over a year, it’s time to ask a question crucial to the program’s future: how successful has this approach been? Read the rest of this entry

Alaska Retirement Systems Workshop

You know the Legislature did “something” to PERS and TRS, but do you know what?

Senate Bill 141 changed the retirement options for any public employee hired after July 1, 2006. This includes all teachers, municipal employees (including firefighters and police officers) and state employees. Read the rest of this entry

The President's Budget Impact on Alaska

The President’s budget request for fiscal year 2006 would cut total spending on discretionary domestic services by 7%, not including homeland security, while at the same time increasing military spending by 2%, after adjusting for inflation. Military spending does not include the cost of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Discretionary spending on federal grants to state and local governments would be cut under this budget proposal by 9%, after adjusting for inflation.

In Alaska, the budget proposal includes cuts of $74.6 million for discretionary grants to state and local governments, including: Read the rest of this entry

Important Letter About Critical Issue

Here is an important letter about a critical issue from the Executive Director of Juneau Youth Services…

August 30, 2005

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski
709 Hart Building
Washington, DC 20510-0201

Re: Proposed changes to Medicaid rehabilitation and targeted case management.

Dear Senator Murkowski:
I am writing to strongly urge you to reject changes that are being proposed by the Administration to Medicaid rehabilitation and case management services. These proposed changes, if adopted, would make it impossible for states and local communities to provide intensive community-based services for children with serious emotional disorders and adults with serious mental illnesses under the Medicaid program. Read the rest of this entry

Katrina, Alaska, and Public Policy

I remember reading a magazine article several years ago–might have been Discover magazine, I don’t recall for certain–that discussed in great detail as a clear possibility, the disaster that has now befallen New Orleans. I remember at least one vivid illustration of the consequences for the city of the predicted huge tidal surge. At the time I thought that the article was somewhat alarmist and possibly the rantings of a marginal scientist/journalist. How wrong I was. Now I feel the need to consider a reevaluation of the issues associated with possible natural or other disasters in Alaska, and, of course, I am not alone in this rude awakening. Read the rest of this entry