PHONING IT IN – Lisa Langenfeld, court reporter, is pictured alone inside the Sitka Courthouse Tuesday as judge lawyers and others speak remotely over the audio system. A sign posted on the door says,  "Effective Immediately TELEPHONIC PARTICIPATION ONLY FOR ALL HEARINGS. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Alaska May Run Short On Medicaid Money

    JUNEAU (AP) — Alaska is expected to begin running out of money to pay doctors, hospitals and clinics who treat Medicaid patients.
    The effects of the shortfall on health care expected to begin Monday would vary from place to place and could not be precisely determined, The Anchorage Daily News reported  Sunday.
    The shortfall is a consequence of last year’s budget cuts and the failure of the Alaska Legislature this year to approve a $360 million supplemental budget.
    Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the Alaska Legislature cut nearly $170 million from the Medicaid budget last year with plans to save that amount through a series of program changes.
    The changes either failed to save sufficient money or could not be implemented as intended. The governor proposed to reverse most of the cuts in the supplemental budget, but in the meantime the state’s Medicaid accounts have been depleted.
    State House Republicans blocked funding for the supplemental budget because they disagreed with a provision reducing their negotiating power on other legislation.
    Under Medicaid, health care providers bill the state for the cost of treatment provided to eligible Americans. Most of the program’s cost is paid by the federal government, with states providing smaller shares.
    The Alaska House could provide partial funding if lawmakers send the supplemental budget to the governor in its current form, or they could vote again on the entire funding proposal.
    An adjournment until Monday made action impossible before a deadline determined by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
    The federal government can still cover its share of treatment, said Sana Efird, the administrative service director in charge of the budget for the department.
    “We need a supplemental, and we need it soon, but yes, we have the ability to make the federal portion of payments,” Efird said.   

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 4-1-20)


By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 3 p.m. Wednesday. 

The list includes the total cases (and what portions are travel and non-travel-related or still being investigated):

 Total - 143 (40, 103)

 Anchorage area – 67 (24, 43)

 Homer – 2 (1, 1)

 Kenai – 1 (1, 0)

 Seward – 1 (1, 0)

 Soldotna – 2 (1, 1)

 Sterling – 2 (0, 2)

 Fairbanks area – 40 (7, 33)

 Mat-Su – 4 (2, 2)

 Juneau – 10 (1, 9)

 Ketchikan – 14 (2, 12)

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is nine, and the cumulative number of deaths is three.

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Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020

NOTICE FROM THE PUBLISHERS

TO READERS AND ADVERTISERS

For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

To the extent possible, Sentinel news and sales staff will be working from home. For the protection of our carriers, home delivery of the newspaper will be stopped effective Tuesday, March 24.

The Sentinel will continue to publish on its website sitkasentinel.com. Access to the website will be free to all users. The Sentinel will also produce a print edition Monday through Friday. It will be available to all readers without charge, at locations throughout town.

Initially, these locations are those where the Sentinel's newspaper vending machines are already in place. The coin mechanisms will be disabled or the doors removed to permit easy access. The Sentinel will work with the stores where the paper is usually sold, to designate a place inside or outside the store where the free edition can be made available.  

Home delivery subscriptions are on hold, and after the end of the disaster emergency, subscriptions will be extended at no charge for the number of days that there was no home delivery.

The Sentinel will make its print edition available to the public as early in the day as possible. with all personnel taking precautions to prevent spread of the virus.

The Sentinel is calling upon its customers to observe the COVID-19 emergency precautions already in place, particularly in maintaining a six-foot social distance from others at newspaper distribution sites.

Following is the statement issued by the Sentinel on March 16, stating the Sentinel's emergency procedures, which remain in effect.

The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

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