Legislature(2007 - 2008)BUTROVICH 205


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Heard & Held
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                               
                         March 5, 2007                                                                                          
                           1:33 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Bettye Davis, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator John Cowdery                                                                                                            
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Senator Joe Thomas, Vice Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Kim Elton                                                                                                               
Senator Fred Dyson                                                                                                              
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 62                                                                                                              
"An Act  establishing the Advisory Committee  on Public Reporting                                                               
of Health  Care Associated Infections; relating  to reporting and                                                               
dissemination   of  data   concerning   health  care   associated                                                               
infections; and providing for an effective date."                                                                               
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
SENATE BILL NO. 76                                                                                                              
"An  Act  establishing a  higher  education  savings program  for                                                               
eligible  children who  were placed  in out-of-home  care by  the                                                               
state;   and  providing   for   confidentiality  of   identifying                                                               
information of a beneficiary under the program."                                                                                
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB  62                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: TASK FORCE ON HEALTH CARE INFECTIONS                                                                               
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) STEVENS                                                                                                  
01/19/07       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/19/07       (S)       HES, FIN                                                                                               
03/05/07       (S)       HES AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
BILL: SB  76                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: TUITION FOR CERTAIN CHILDREN                                                                                       
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) ELLIS                                                                                                    
02/07/07       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/07/07       (S)       HES, FIN                                                                                               
03/05/07       (S)       HES AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
Doug Letch, Aide                                                                                                                
  to Senator Stevens                                                                                                            
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau AK                                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented SB 62                                                                                           
Jay Butler, Director                                                                                                            
Division of Public Health                                                                                                       
Department of Health & Social Services                                                                                          
Juneau AK                                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT: In support of SB 62                                                                                       
Sandra Stark, representing herself                                                                                              
No address provided                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT: In support of SB 62                                                                                       
Rosemary Craig, representing herself                                                                                            
No address provided                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT: In support of SB 62                                                                                       
Jennifer Grogg                                                                                                                  
Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association (ASHNHA)                                                                     
Mat-Su Valley AK                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT: In support of SB 62                                                                                       
Kim Mymes-Spink                                                                                                                 
Professionals in Epidemiology                                                                                                   
No address provided                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT: In support of SB 62                                                                                       
Mike Lesmann, Community Relations Manager                                                                                       
Office of Children's Services                                                                                                   
Juneau AK                                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT: In support of SB 76                                                                                       
Gabe Aceves, aide to Senator Ellis                                                                                              
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau AK                                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT: Available for questions on SB 76                                                                          
Terra Horton                                                                                                                    
Faith Based and Community Initiatives                                                                                           
No address provided                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT: In support of SB 76                                                                                       
Jim Lynch, Associate Vice President of Finance                                                                                  
University of Alaska                                                                                                            
Fairbanks AK                                                                                                                    
POSITION STATEMENT: In support of SB 76                                                                                       
Chip Wagoner, Executive Director                                                                                                
Alaska Conference of Catholic Bishops                                                                                           
Juneau AK                                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT: In support of SB 76                                                                                       
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR  BETTYE  DAVIS  called the  Senate  Health,  Education  and                                                             
Social Services  Standing Committee  meeting to order  at 1:33:45                                                             
PM. Present at  the call to order were Senator  Cowdery and Chair                                                             
          SB  62-TASK FORCE ON HEALTH CARE INFECTIONS                                                                       
CHAIR DAVIS announced SB 63  to be under consideration. She added                                                               
that because  of the lack of  a quorum, the committee  would only                                                               
be hearing testimony and would not be moving the bill that day.                                                                 
DOUG LETCH, aide to Senator Gary  Stevens, sponsor of SB 62, said                                                               
that  the bill  would  set  up an  advisory  committee on  public                                                               
reporting  of health-care-associated  infections, which  would be                                                               
managed by the  Department of Health and  Social Services (DHSS).                                                               
The committee  would include a  senator and  representative, nine                                                               
members  appointed  by the  governor,  and  a state  official  in                                                               
charge of epidemiology. The nine  appointed members would include                                                               
physicians, a  representative of the Alaska  Native Tribal Health                                                               
Consortium,  a  representative  of  the  Alaska  chapter  of  the                                                               
Association   of   Professionals    in   Infection   Control,   a                                                               
representative  of the  Alaska State  Hospital  and Nursing  Home                                                               
Association   (ASHNHA),  urban   and  rural   consumers,  and   a                                                               
He explained  that the committee's  role will  include developing                                                               
recommendations  for   analyzing  and   distributing  information                                                               
related to  preventing hospital infection,  and will  provide its                                                               
recommendations to the  DHSS by 2009. By January of  2011 it will                                                               
provide  the  legislature with  a  report  addressing the  unique                                                               
challenges facing Alaska in regards to the issue.                                                                               
He  added  that  many  states   do  this  sort  of  analysis  and                                                               
1:38:12 PM                                                                                                                    
JAY BUTLER,  Director of  the Division of  Public Health  for the                                                               
Department  of  Health  and Social  Services  (DHSS),  said  that                                                               
infections in  health care settings  have highlighted a  need for                                                               
public health attention in hospitals.  Much intensive health care                                                               
intervention is  now done on  an out-patient basis,  and patients                                                               
are sent home who may be  sicker than those in the hospital. This                                                               
has led  to a  consumer-driven interest  in public  disclosure of                                                               
hospitals'  infection rates.  As  many as  two million  infection                                                               
cases  are  associated  with health  care  settings  yearly;  the                                                               
mortality rate  is around  90,000 each year.  A number  of states                                                               
require public disclosure of these  rates, but challenges include                                                               
accurate  identification  of  infections;  oftentimes  infections                                                               
don't  develop until  discharge from  the hospital.  In addition,                                                               
public  disclosure  could  act  as   a  disincentive  to  use  of                                                               
hospitals; the more thorough a  hospital is in its reporting, the                                                               
more the hospital appears to be negligent in its care.                                                                          
He added that a special challenge  in Alaska is the small patient                                                               
population, which  means difficulties  in reporting  useful data.                                                               
Also  there is  no evidence  that public  reporting will  improve                                                               
health.  Studies  have  shown that  certain  criteria  should  be                                                               
followed in reporting, including  using established public health                                                               
surveillance  methods, a  multidisciplinary  advisory panel,  and                                                               
appropriate  process and  outcome measures;  he gave  examples of                                                               
processes  and   outcomes  that   should  be  studied.   A  final                                                               
recommendation  would  be  that  the agency  measuring  the  data                                                               
provide  regular   and  confidential  feedback  to   health  care                                                               
1:47:08 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  DAVIS thanked  Mr. Butler  for his  presentation and  said                                                               
that she look forward to forming the task force.                                                                                
SENATOR  COWDERY   related  a   personal  story   about  hospital                                                               
1:49:30 PM                                                                                                                    
SANDRA STARK, representing  herself, said she is  a public member                                                               
of the initial  working group. She said that lives  will be saved                                                               
by  this   legislation,  perhaps  an  indeterminate   number  but                                                               
doubtless  many. Practices  are varied  for preventing  infection                                                               
and  they  do  make  a   great  difference.  Monitoring  hospital                                                               
infection  prevention  through a  pilot  program  will mean  less                                                               
costs and hospitalizations,  the rates of which are  very high in                                                               
1:52:12 PM                                                                                                                    
ROSEMARY CRAIG,  representing herself,  said she had  worked with                                                               
Ms.  Stark  on  the  Lower   Kenai  Peninsula  and  it  would  be                                                               
advantageous for the entire state  to have some kind of tracking,                                                               
but that she was concerned  with how larger and smaller hospitals                                                               
would be  compared; she requested that  the committee investigate                                                               
this further.                                                                                                                   
1:53:06 PM                                                                                                                    
JENNIFER  GROGG,  representing  the  Alaska  State  Hospital  and                                                               
Nursing  Home  Association (ASHNHA),  said  that  it supports  an                                                               
advisory  committee  on  hospital infections.  Such  a  committee                                                               
would  be able  to  review  the success  of  states with  similar                                                               
legislation and  advise Alaska. Creating equitable  guidelines is                                                               
difficult,  and  Alaska's  should  be  tailored  to  the  state's                                                               
specific needs;  outpatient facilities should be  included in the                                                               
reporting process.                                                                                                              
1:56:13 PM                                                                                                                    
KIM MYMES-SPINK,  with Professionals  in Epidemiology,  said that                                                               
the group supports the bill and  would be happy to participate on                                                               
the task force.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR  DAVIS closed  public  testimony  for SB  62  and said  the                                                               
committee would hear the bill again at a later date.                                                                            
              SB  76-TUITION FOR CERTAIN CHILDREN                                                                           
1:58:16 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BETTYE DAVIS announced SB 76 to be up for consideration.                                                                  
SENATOR ELLIS, sponsor of SB 76,  said that the bill concerns the                                                               
collection of  education funds  for foster youth  who age  out of                                                               
the system  and who often do  not succeed in life  afterwards. He                                                               
said that Missouri has a  similar program that allows the funding                                                               
of education  accounts for  children leaving  foster care  at the                                                               
age of  18; SB  76 would  establish such a  program in  Alaska to                                                               
allow   churches,    individuals,   charities,    and   community                                                               
organizations to open accounts for  the purposes of these youths'                                                               
college  education. The  accounts  would be  managed through  the                                                               
University of Alaska (UA)'s college  savings account program. The                                                               
donations  could  be  used for  any  educational  endeavor,  from                                                               
vocational education to college.                                                                                                
He added that  many foster children have suffered  from abuse and                                                               
neglect,  and  their caretakers  cannot  be  expected to  provide                                                               
education  savings for  them.  The bill  will  help foster  youth                                                               
become more productive citizens.                                                                                                
CHAIR DAVIS said that she thinks  the bill will be successful and                                                               
she looks forward to helping it pass through.                                                                                   
MIKE  LESMANN,  Community Relations  Manager  for  the Office  of                                                               
Children's Services (OCS),  said that the OCS  is very supportive                                                               
of the bill. The Faith-based  and Community Initiatives Office of                                                               
the  DHSS is  also  in  support of  the  bill,  and together  the                                                               
offices   look   forward    to   developing   information-sharing                                                               
procedures  with  the UA  and  directing  monies donated  to  the                                                               
2:05:16 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COWDERY asked  what will happen to the money  if a foster                                                               
child doesn't use it.                                                                                                           
GABE   ACEVES,  Staff   to  Senator   Ellis,  replied   that  the                                                               
beneficiary name  on a given  account can  be changed if  a youth                                                               
decides not to use the money.                                                                                                   
2:06:35 PM                                                                                                                    
TERRA HORTON,  Faith Based and  Community Initiatives,  said that                                                               
as a social  worker she is aware of the  challenges facing foster                                                               
youth.  They are  at  a  higher risk  for  many  factors such  as                                                               
poverty, drug abuse,  homelessness, etc.; few are  able to pursue                                                               
their  desires  for  further  education,  financial  difficulties                                                               
being  the   major  deterrent.  This  bill   would  diminish  the                                                               
financial challenge  to these kids  and let them lead  more self-                                                               
sufficient, productive lives.                                                                                                   
2:09:31 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELLIS  thanked Ms.  Horton for  her participation  in the                                                               
2:10:03 PM                                                                                                                    
JIM  LYNCH,   Associate  Vice  President   of  Finance   for  the                                                               
University of  Alaska, said that  the UA  supports SB 76  and has                                                               
participated in drafting the bill to  see that it works in unison                                                               
with the college savings program.  He said that the importance of                                                               
a college  account creates or  intensifies aspirations  of foster                                                               
youth and  it is  an outstanding program  that has  no downsides.                                                               
The money can  be switched around between  beneficiaries and will                                                               
be invested as well.                                                                                                            
2:12:25 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELLIS  said that Mr.  Lynch helped with making  sure that                                                               
the legislation would work smoothly with the UA program.                                                                        
MR. ACEVES explained that a  provision in the bill makes children                                                               
in  long-term,  out-of-state  foster  care  the  highest  funding                                                               
priority. The department may establish  specific criteria as well                                                               
as the  donors, but the two  most important criteria are  the age                                                               
of the child and the length of their stay in out-of-home care.                                                                  
DAVIS asked  if a child  who ages out of  the system can  use the                                                               
funds at any point or they must do so immediately.                                                                              
MR.  ACEVES replied  that  the  funds are  good  until the  youth                                                               
reaches the age of 30.                                                                                                          
MR. LYNCH added that there  is no practical limitation within the                                                               
college savings program.                                                                                                        
2:16:50 PM                                                                                                                    
CHIP WAGONER,  the Executive Director  for the  Alaska Conference                                                               
of  Catholic Bishops  (ACCB),  said that  the  bill is  important                                                               
because  the   government  cannot  do  everything   in  terms  of                                                               
providing  for youth;  the community  needs to  take some  of the                                                               
responsibility. The bill  will provide a needed  boost for foster                                                               
youth,  and  marketing  the  program  is  particularly  important                                                               
because people, corporations, and  non-profits need to know about                                                               
it to participate.                                                                                                              
CHAIR DAVIS remarked that Alaskans are known to be giving                                                                       
people, and the program will be successful. She added that the                                                                  
bill will be brought before the committee in the near future.                                                                   
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Davis adjourned the meeting at 2:20:21 PM.                                                                              

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