Local & Regional News
1:35 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Federal Changes Could Transform The Way Arkansas Medicare Patients Receive Services

A private nonprofit organization that advocates for the improvement of health care in Arkansas is expressing great concern over proposed changes that could have an effect on Medicare patients. 

Ray Hanley is president and CEO of the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care. Hanley says his organization has done Medicare quality improvement work for 30 years, but an initiative by the U.S. Department Health and Human Services (HHS) could negatively impact Medicare recipients and the Foundation’s 190 employees who work statewide. 

“HHS, which administers Medicare, wants to do away with having state-based quality improvement work and consolidate it into a handful of regional contracts,” said Hanley. “This means that the work being done here locally would very likely be done on a phone bank out of Atlanta, Chicago, or Dallas which is not in the interest of health care in Arkansas."

In an effort to cut costs and streamline services, federal health department officials have signaled a desire to implement the policy changes starting in 2014.

Hanley says the overhaul could mean a loss of jobs in Arkansas and make it more difficult for patients to get personalized service from local professionals who understand their providers and the issues.

Lobbying efforts are underway on Capitol Hill by Hanley and others to encourage lawmakers to block efforts by HHS.