Arkansas Healthcare

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

The healthcare experience of transgender people in Arkansas is the subject of what some laud as an unprecedented study being launched by the Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition (ArTEC) in partnership with the UAMS College of Public Health. The community engagement based research project, funded by a $15,000 federal grant, was announced by ArTEC Tuesday.

The organization’s executive director Andrea Zekis said the award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute is a new direction at both the federal and state level.

Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Legislators reviewing the state’s Medicaid program and healthcare system were told Monday by Arkansas health officials, researchers at the Bureau of Legislative Research, and hospital representatives that the cost to hospitals and clinics of uncompensated care is in decline thanks in-part to reforms enabled by the Affordable Care Act.

Greg Bledsoe
Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas’ new Surgeon General, Dr. Greg Bledsoe, says the legislative health care task force that begins its work in earnest this week will be looking at a much wider swath of reform than just the private option.

Private Option Average Costs Declining, Enrollment Nears 230,000

Apr 17, 2015
David Johnson (front, left) responds to Jason Rapert's remarks (back). David Sanders (front, right) looks on.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The number of Arkansans with completed enrollments through the Health Care Independence Program – the private option – has reached 229,599 as of March 31, according to numbers released by the Arkansas Department of Human Services Thursday.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says a special session will likely be needed to take up recommendations on an alternative for covering the thousands of people on the state's compromise Medicaid expansion.

Hutchinson told reporters on Thursday he'd prefer that the recommendations of a task force looking at the future of the state's "private option" be considered in a special session rather than when lawmakers return to take up the state's budget next year.

An effort to stop signing people up for Arkansas' compromise Medicaid expansion has failed in the state Senate.

The Senate voted 15-13 Thursday against the bill to require the state to seek approval from the federal government to freeze enrollment in the "private option," which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for the poor. The program was crafted as an alternative to the Medicaid expansion envisioned under the federal health law.

State officials have said the federal government has told them they won't approve an enrollment freeze.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is expected to sign a bill that would halt Arkansas' plan to set up its own insurance exchange under the federal health law until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a lawsuit about subsidies.

House members voted 74-11 Wednesday to advance the bill. A Hutchinson spokesman previously said the governor would sign it.

The measure was approved in the Senate last week on the same day the nation's highest court heard arguments in a lawsuit centering on the federal subsidies granted by the overhaul.

The Arkansas Senate has voted to put the state's plans to set up its own insurance exchange under the federal health law on hold while the nation's highest court weighs a lawsuit over the overhaul.

The measure was approved by the Senate on a 25-0 vote Wednesday, the same day the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing arguments in a lawsuit centering on the federal subsidies granted by the overhaul. Opponents of the law say that only residents of states that set up their own insurance markets can get subsidies to help pay their premiums.

Twelve Republicans and four Democrats have been named to a legislative task force studying alternatives for covering the thousands of people currently on Arkansas' compromise Medicaid expansion.

House Speaker Jeremy Gillam and Senate President Jonathan Dismang on Monday named their members to the panel created last month to study the future of the state's "private option" program. Under the private option, Arkansas is using federal funds to purchase private insurance for the poor.

Cyberattack Touches 39,000 Arkansas Consumers With Blue Cross Plans

Feb 26, 2015

Some 39,000 Arkansas consumers were impacted by the massive data breach that hit one of the nation’s largest insurance carriers in late January, including nine individuals who had their Social Security information breached, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield spokesman Max Greenwood told Talk Business & Politics on Wednesday.

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