Arkansas Healthcare

Arkansas should continue its efforts to establish a state-based insurance exchange, the executive director of the state’s Health Insurance Marketplace said Monday, even though a recent Supreme Court ruling makes it less necessary to do so.

The director of a state board says Arkansas' work toward setting up its own insurance exchange will give the state more flexibility as it looks at changes to its Medicaid system.

Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace Executive Director Cheryl Smith Gardner told a legislative panel that there are many benefits to the state moving forward with its own marketplace for consumers to purchase insurance policies under the federal health law. Arkansas is currently using the federal exchange, but has been given preliminary approval to switch to a state exchange.

Senate Minority Leader Keith Ingram (D-West Memphis).
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The US Supreme Court ruling on Affordable Care Act subsidies has added clarity to the ways in which federal assistance for health insurance premiums can reach Arkansans earning 138 percent to 400 percent of the poverty level and shopping for insurance through a healthcare marketplace. But it has not settled the issue of whether Arkansas will continue to utilize a federally facilitated marketplace, such as healthcare.gov, or continue to build up to a planned 2017 launch of a state-run exchange.

Arkansas Officials Consider Scenarios In Obamacare Court Ruling

Jun 17, 2015
supreme court healthcare
NPR / Alex Wong/Getty Images

It’s possible that by Thursday, a U.S. Supreme Court decision will result in 68,232 Arkansans losing insurance subsidies provided through the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. If that happens, state policymakers will have to decide how to respond.

Roby Brock / Talk Business & Politics

Members of a task force looking at health reforms in Arkansas took a detour down a philosophical road regarding contract management at the Department of Human Services in a discussion that lasted more than an hour.

State’s Medical Providers Unprepared For Costly Coding Switch

Jun 11, 2015

On Oct. 1, the coding system used by Arkansas medical providers for billing insurance companies and the government will change. Many providers probably won’t be ready, and if they aren’t, they will have trouble getting paid.

The federal government is requiring medical providers, including 38,000 in Arkansas, to switch from the ICD-9 system to ICD-10. Those who submit bills using ICD-9 after Sept. 30 will have their claims rejected, said Tami Harlan, deputy director of the state’s Medicaid program.

Arkansas' top official tasked with preventing, detecting and investigating Medicaid fraud has announced his resignation.

Medicaid Inspector General Jay Shue said Tuesday that he will step down but didn't say why. He didn't return a call from the Associated Press on Tuesday. It's also unclear when he will resign.

Shue was the first person to hold the position, which was created by the state Legislature in 2013.

He said recoupments of improperly paid funds tripled from $1.1 million in 2013 to more than $3 million in 2015.

Private option eligibility by county.
Arkansas Department of Human Services

The number of Arkansans approved as eligible to enroll in the state’s expansion of Medicaid, known as the private option, has surpassed 250,000 people. That’s an upward tick of 8,696 people deemed eligible from March 31st to April 30th.

A release Friday by the state Department of Human Services reports 234,791 people have actually been enrolled, up from 229,599 in the previous month.

Cheryl Smith Gardner, Executive Director Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace Board and board member Mike Castleberry speaking to a legislative committee.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A section of the Affordable Care Act – called a 1332 waiver – is being hailed by one of the legislative architects of the private option and the director of the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace Board as a path toward consensus in a Legislature riddled with uncertainty over healthcare. 

UAMS campus
uams.edu / UAMS

The Affordable Care Act as applied in Arkansas has worked so well for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences that administrators are considering expanding the 10-story UAMS Medical Center, Arkansas Business reports. 

The 494-bed hospital stays nearly full and can take only about 70 percent of the requests for patient transfers from across the state.

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