Public Health Nurse Services Now Cost
Previously free services now on sliding scale
ANCHORAGE - If your child typically gets health care from a public health nurse you will now have to pay a fee.
The state is now charging for those services, officials say, to continue funding public health centers. The changes were implemented at the beginning of the month by the state Department of Health and Social Services.
Parents are now being billed when their children go to see the public health nurse – and there is also another big change.
Whereas in the past some services received at public health centers were free, now all services from the nurse have a cost.
Child wellbeing check-ups are the most important service they provide – the check-up includes immunizations, hearing and vision tests.
The state health officials say they have to charge now because of both state budget constraints and federal funding cuts.
They say the state will now also begin to collect from Medicaid and private insurers. But they say the fees will be charged on a sliding scale.
"What a sliding fee scale means is you can be charged anywhere from 100 percent of the fee that's set, going down by percentages to zero, so some people will be charged nothing at all, depending on their income and the number of people in their family," said Rhonda Richtsmeier, chief of public health nursing.
There are more than 100 public health nurses serving out of 23 centers across the state.
The changes are applied only to state health clinics. The municipality has its own rules.