Arkansas Health

More than 43,000 Arkansans have picked health plans on the new insurance markets created by the federal health overhaul.

The federal government said Thursday that 43,446 Arkansas residents signed up between Oct. 1, 2013 and March 31.

Previous enrollment figures found that more than 33,500 residents had already picked out a plan through the exchange, an online marketplace where consumers can compare and shop for policies.

State officials had anticipated 250,000 residents to have signed up.

This week’s nationwide release of data on doctors’ Medicare billing fees has many cheering the cause of making the costs associated with healthcare more transparent. The release also heralds a future of greater transparency as to how healthcare is delivered and assessed, according to Arkansas Surgeon General Joe Thompson.

In Arkansas, numbers show oncologists, ophthalmologists and ambulance services tend to receive the most in Medicare payments. Thompson said he welcomes the greater transparency in healthcare costs but warns that the numbers could be taken out of context.

Local government officials and the Arkansas Department of Health are trying to raise awareness about issues like obesity, childhood hunger, fitness and nutrition for National Public Health Week.

On Monday, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith, representatives from the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance and others gathered at the Big Dam Bridge to advocate for various educational initiatives.

A new report shows a sharp increase in the number of Arkansas kids being diagnosed with autism.

The study released Thursday says one in every 65 eight-year-olds have the disorder, which is characterized by impaired social interaction and restricted behaviors. The estimate is based on data from 2010.

Eight years earlier, one in every 145 kids at that age in Arkansas were considered to be autistic.

The deadline to sign up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace is nearing. Those seeking to enroll have until next Monday, March 31, or they may face a fine.

The Arkansas Health Department says 52 people have died from influenza so far this flu season.

Officials said Tuesday that there's about one week left in peak flu season and the toll could still rise. Last flu season, 61 people in Arkansas died from the respiratory virus.

Little Rock television station KTHV reports that most of people who developed fatal infections were adults between ages of 25 and 62.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta says the flu is classified as widespread in Arkansas.

Arkansas's number of flu deaths this season is now 25.

Doctor Dirk Haselow, the state's epidemeologist says he thinks the state's flu season has peaked, but total deaths could top 50 before the season is fully over. He says with more flu season ahead, it's not too late to get a flu shot if you haven't had one already.

UAMS Opens A New Sickle Cell Anemia Clinic

Jan 21, 2014

A new clinic for adults with sickle cell anemia is opening at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. 

The program will offer a 24/7 call center as well as provide yearly flu shots and things not always available in more rural areas.

Physician with the program, Dr. Robin Devan, says approximately 1,300 children and adults suffer from sickle cell in Arkansas, but treatment isn’t consistent.

An screenshot from healthcare.gov near its launch.
healthcare.gov

The Arkansas Department of Human Services says a significant number of younger adults are enrolling in the state’s private option. It allows people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($15,850 for an individual) to receive subsidized private health coverage using federal money devoted to Medicaid. Andy Allison, state Medicaid director, says its no surprise younger people are qualifying for the private option, since they tend to earn less.

A Republican takeover of a northeast Arkansas state Senate seat dims the prospects for continuing the state's compromise Medicaid expansion plan and could be a troubling early sign for Democrats who had hoped to rebound from recent losses at the polls.

Republican John Cooper's win in the special election Tuesday for the seat vacated by Democratic Sen. Paul Bookout over ethics violations gives Republicans a 22-13 majority in the Senate and takes away a key vote for the "private option" Medicaid expansion lawmakers approved last year.

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