Report finds potential for insurance savings under consolidated coverage

The state or federal government covers 340,000 people in Alaska and retirees out-of-state, spending $3.5 billion per year between Medicaid and federal and state employee groups.

Uncle Sam pays $1.51 billion for 42 percent of those people as Medicaid, associated with the federal Medicaid match, the portion of Medicare payments estimated to cover eligible state retirees, and federal funds associated with the individual market.

Alaska pays $2.05 billion a year, covering its share of Medicaid and 58 percent of all government employees.

FISH FACTOR: Upcoming Summit tackles ‘graying of the fleet’

The biggest classes of Alaska fishermen are phasing out of the business and fewer young cohorts are recruiting in. The Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit has convened over a decade to help stanch that outward flow, and facilitate a future for fishing leaders.

The average age of a commercial fisherman in Alaska was 50 in 2014 compared to 40 in 1980. At the same time, the number of Alaskans younger than 40 holding fishing permits fell to just 17 percent, down from nearly 40 percent of total permits across the state.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Corporate tax reform should benefit domestic companies

As tax reform becomes a major focus in Washington, Congress faces a unique opportunity to fix a situation that has long favored multinational corporations at the expense of U.S. companies.

Doing so could level the playing field for American companies while also delivering an extra $1 trillion in tax revenue over the next decade.

Claiming self as biggest creditor, Rogoff objects to outside firm

The latest development in former Alaska Dispatch News owner Alice Rogoff’s bankruptcy case has her objecting to hiring a Seattle law firm for the trustee on the grounds that it would cost money that wouldn’t then go toward the $16.6 million she says the estate owes her.

A flurry of filings from Nov. 7-15 begins with William Artus, attorney for Chapter 7 trustee Nacole Jipping, making a motion for a rule 2004 examination. That process would allow attorney-client privileges to pass to the bankruptcy trustee.

Movers and Shakers for Nov. 26

Report shows Medicaid savings largely from travel cost-shifting

Reforms to Alaska’s Medicaid program are producing savings but state budget officials still expect costs to rise up to $75 million next year.

Provisions in the state Medicaid reform legislation that passed in 2016 with overwhelming bipartisan support saved the state more than $30 million in fiscal year 2017, according to companion reports issued Nov. 15 by the departments of Health and Social Services and Law.

Marijuana board still grappling with landlord arrangements

When the Marijuana Control Board combed through licenses applications for new cannabis operations at its Anchorage meeting Nov. 14-15, residency and landlord issues continued to trip up applicants.

Only Alaskans can buy into a marijuana operation, per state law. The board has long expressed concerns about hidden ownership interests that could bring non-residents or a black market element into the legal industry.

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: Foreign homebuyers have cash to spend in Alaska

As can be expected, top destinations for foreign homebuyers are the sunshine states of Florida, California, Texas and Arizona.

However, in a little heralded survey in 2015, published by the National Association of Realtors, Alaska ranked number No. 6 as a destination for foreign homebuyers. More recent surveys have dropped Anchorage and Alaska out of the top 20 but the survey reminded me of my first encounter with a foreign homebuyer back in 1984.

Hilcorp boost Inlet output; Eni preps long well

Most state officials are encouraged about the incremental increase in Alaska’s North Slope oil production because of the impact it could on state finances, but Hilcorp Energy is drilling to produce more from the state’s original oil basin as well.

Hilcorp Alaska Vice President Dave Wilkins said the company drilled nine oil wells into its Cook Inlet fields this year and, as a result, expects to increase its Inlet oil production from about 12,000 barrels per day in January to more than 15,500 barrels per day by year’s end.

More exploration approved at Icy Cape

Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Office officials are spending the winter reviewing the results of last year’s drilling campaign and preparing for another at their Icy Cape heavy mineral prospect.

Those results were promising enough for the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority Board of Trustees to approve $3 million in October to spend on more exploratory drilling next year, according to Trust Land Office Executive Director Wyn Menefee.

Onsite use decision delayed; special meeting called after clock runs out

The Marijuana Control Board postponed action until April on whether to legalize onsite consumption facilities after running out of time in its two-day meeting in Anchorage Nov. 14-15.

In the meantime, because the board made it through only 22 of the 50 marijuana operations applications, they agreed to meet back in Anchorage Nov. 28-29 to finish the work. Otherwise, applicants would be left hanging until the Jan. 21 meeting of the board in Juneau.

AT&T debuts cell-service drone in Puerto Rico

A certain “flying cow” will be remembered long after it’s left Puerto Rico.

In this case, it’s AT&T’s drone invention, a cell on wings also known as a COW. At work in Puerto Rico, AT&T crews from Alaska and Washington reconnected residents of several devastated areas with cell service, using a new technology for the first time.

LTE-connected drones hold a lot of potential for FirstNet-subscribers, AT&T’s Kathryn Spencer said, referring to the telecom’s contract to develop, build and operate the nationwide broadband network for first responders.

Alaska Communications gains in broadband as FCC funds slip

Alaska Communications Systems Group Inc. reported modest 0.4 percent gains as revenues increased in third quarter to $56.7 million with growth attributed to advancements in fixed wireless technology and losses attributed to a shortage in Universal Services Funds for the Rural Health Care Program.

In a year-over-year comparison to 2016, Alaska Communications saw overall revenue rise from $56.5 million to $56.7 million. Of that, business and wholesale provided 61.5 percent of the total revenue, up to $31.3 million from $29.4 million, or a gain of 6.4 percent.

Alaska SBA office hosts Amazon for e-commerce workshop

Amazon is opening a “big door” to Alaska’s small business entrepreneurs, inviting them to sell their goods and services via the shopping giant’s network.

“It’s a worldwide door at Amazon,” an official with the organization told a packed crowd at a Nov. 8 workshop put on by the Small Business Administration Alaska District Office.

While there’s talk or hopes that the e-commerce giant might open an Alaska branch — and according to Amazon spokesman Erik Fairleigh, that’s not out of the question — the big topic of the day was how to use Amazon’s network.

Entrepreneurs bring slate of new ideas to 10th Startup Weekend

The 10th annual Startup Weekend Nov. 10-12 brought out seven teams and about 45 participants spending 58 hours on a weekend researching and vetting new business ideas with total strangers at the Boardroom in Downtown Anchorage

The Boardroom, a co-working space that’s become known as a hive of entrepreneurial activity in the state, hosted the slate of emerging business ideas that by Sunday night ranged from cultural awareness gifting for corporations to new tech apps to financial startups.

Movers and Shakers for Nov. 19

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