Behavioral health services in some areas of rural Alaska are getting a financial boost, thanks to a six-figure grant from Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska.

Premera announced its granting $450,000 to the Rural Alaska Community Action Program, Inc. (RurAL CAP) Wednesday. 

"This is part of a greater initiative that we're doing," Jim Grazko, president of Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska told KTVA. "An $8 million commitment that we have to the state of Alaska to help address homelessness and behavioral health issues."

It's an investment, Grazko says, that could help decrease costs for Alaskans impacted by the grant later on.

While Alaska has some of the highest healthcare costs in the nation, Grazko says the company has identified this grant money as serving a more narrowly-focused purpose. 

"This resulted from a change in the tax law. So, taking some of that money and applying it to premiums would be a very temporary, short-term fix. The underlying drivers of cost really wouldn't be impacted by that," Grazko said.

"We sort of looked at it as compartmentalizing the grant money, and focusing other programs on getting health premiums down in the market. And we're working diligently to do that. It's separate and apart from grants we're doing to RurAL CAP," Grazko added. 

As part of the same social impact initiative, Premera also awarded a $1 million grant to Covenant House of Alaska in July. 

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