FAIRBANKS — The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Friday that Alaska will receive about $58.5 million from the federal government toward the state’s reinsurance program. 

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker called it a solid step in the effort to stabilize the health insurance market in the state. 

“Working together with the Alaska Legislature and the federal government, we have created an innovative solution to stabilize the market, which other states are now attempting to replicate,” Walker said in a statement. “We are committed to developing smarter solutions like the Alaska Reinsurance Program so that all Alaskans have access to affordable health insurance.”

The Alaska Reinsurance Program is a state-operated program that covers claims in the individual health care market for people with one or more of 33 identified higher-cost conditions in hopes of stabilizing premiums for customers. 

The Legislature approved the reinsurance program in 2016 before pursuing the state’s 1332 waiver, which references Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act, authorizing “states to waive key requirements under the law in order to experiment with different health coverage models.”

Director of the Alaska Division of Insurance, Lori Wing-Heier, said that the state’s health care market presents some challenges but that the reinsurance program has helped ease some of those difficulties.

“Alaska’s small population creates challenges,” she said. “But while premiums in the individual market are rising sharply in most states, because of the reinsurance program Alaskans saw only a modest rate increase in 2017 and a 22 percent decrease in the average individual market plan in 2018.”

Contact staff writer Erin Granger at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMPolitics.