Arkansas Health

The Trump administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has at long-last made its decision to add a work requirement for certain low-income people if they way to keep getting health insurance through Arkansas’s version of Medicaid expansion, known as Arkansas Works. The announcement was made Monday at the state’s Capitol building.

CMS Director Seema Verma personally signed and hand-delivered the federal agency’s letter to Governor Asa Hutchinson granting the state’s request.

Cold medicine
Creative Commons

As of Tuesday afternoon, the number of flu-related deaths in Arkansas is now up to 125 according to the state Department of Health. It's the worst flu season for the state in two decades.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Gary Wheeler, estimates there another four to six weeks left of epidemic flu levels. 

Connecticut Department of Public Health

The Arkansas Health Department says it's recorded nearly 30 more flu-related deaths over the past week, bringing the total number this season to 122.

Department spokeswoman Meg Mirivel told state lawmakers that the total figure as of Monday is the highest in two decades and is likely to keep rising over the next several weeks. Two of those deaths were children.

Department Director Nate Smith says the majority of flu-related deaths are reported after the peak of transmission, which hadn't arrived as of Monday. The flu season ends in May.

Nate Smith
Governor's Office / You Tube

Arkansas health officials say another two dozen people have died from the flu, pushing the number of deaths this season to 94.

The state Department of Health said Tuesday that Arkansas may not have seen its peak number of flu cases.

It said that, based on previous years, it would not be surprising for Arkansas to have more than 200 flu deaths before the season is over. A number that high would be a modern record.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked Arkansas the most obese state in the nation in 2014, the state’s weight epidemic is now leveling off, and health officials hope obesity rates will start to go down.

Picture of Tobacco
Public Domain Pictures

The American Lung Association released its annual State of Tobacco report for all 50 states Wednesday. Arkansas received an F in four out of five categories, failing in tobacco prevention, tobacco taxes, access to cessation services, and the minimum age of sale for tobacco products.

The main campus of the University of Arkansas For Medical Sciences in Little Rock.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is cutting 600 positions as it faces the prospect of cutting $30 million in expenses this fiscal year. Only 258 of the once-budgeted positions were filled. UAMS is the state’s largest public employer with a staff of more than 10,000 and is the only Level One Trauma Center in the state.

The Arkansas Department of Health is warning residents about a significant influenza outbreak and how best to prepare.

“In a bad flu year, it's estimated a third of the population gets the flu," says Dr. Dirk Haselow, state epidemiologist who is tracking outbreak response. "In Arkansas that would be a million people." 

This influenza season, which began in early December and ends in late March, intensified over the holiday season and is shaping up to be a bad one, Haselow says.

Wendy Reaves (seated) speaks to members of the Arkansas Tobacco Settlement Commission with her daughter Regan and Gov. Asa Hutchinson looking on.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says diverting money from Arkansas’s tobacco settlement to help people with developmental disabilities has cut the number of families on a waiting list by 500.

Speaking at the quarterly meeting of the state’s Tobacco Settlement Commission Tuesday, Hutchinson praised commissioners for supporting a proposal he made in September 2016.

"You embraced that idea, which I wanted to thank you for," he said.

Arkansas’s health groups are reacting to corrective statements the tobacco industry began airing on network TV in late November with some optimism that they will help reduce the state’s high smoking rate as well as concern the ads won’t reach young people.