SUMMARY OF: Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, State Medical Board


Purpose of the Report

The audit was performed to determine if there is a continued need for the board and if its termination date should be extended. The board is set to sunset on June 30, 2023, and will have one year from that date to conclude its administrative operations.

Report Conclusions

The audit concluded that the board developed and adopted regulations to protect the public, improve the licensing process, and expand access to care during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency. Further, the board served the public’s interest by effectively licensing physicians, osteopaths, and podiatrists; however, emergency courtesy licenses for physician assistants were not issued in accordance with state law.

The board’s workload significantly increased during the audit period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The board met frequently, sometimes weekly, to consider pandemic-related regulations. The number of licensing applications increased dramatically as a result of practitioners traveling to Alaska to help meet the need for health care services and out-of-state practitioners providing services via technology (commonly referred to as telehealth). The dramatic increase in workload occurred right after all board members were replaced by the governor. Board turnover and vacancies were common during the audit period.

In accordance with AS 08.03.010(c)(13), the board is scheduled to terminate on June 30, 2023. We recommend that the legislature extend the board’s termination date to June 30, 2031, which is the maximum extension allowed per statute.

Findings and Recommendations

  1. The board’s executive administrator should ensure that all board meetings are adequately public noticed.
  2. The board should ensure that emergency regulations comply with statutes.