Arkansas Healthcare

A former West Memphis city councilman has admitted to being an intermediary who helped pass bribes to the former deputy director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Former councilman Phillip Carter pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal conspiracy charge. The deputy director, Steven Jones, pled guilty last October to conspiracy and bribery charges for providing assistance two mental health companies in exchange for gifts.

Trinity Behavioral Health Care and Maxus Inc. were suspended from the state's Medicaid program last year after the state learned of the scheme.

State Representative Kim Hammer (R-Benton).
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

An Arkansas legislative committee voted unanimously Wednesday to subpoena a federal Medicaid official about the state’s Medicaid enrollment and eligibility systems contracts. 

The combined impact of proposed mergers among four of the nation’s largest health insurance companies would exceed federal antitrust guidelines designed to preserve competition in as many as 97 metropolitan areas within 17 states, according to new special report on commercial health insurance markets issued recently by the American Medical Association (AMA).

David Sanders
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A state legislator is asking a panel to hold off on looking at vendors for Arkansas' insurance exchange as lawmakers weigh the future of the state's Medicaid expansion and health care system.

Republican Sen. David Sanders on Tuesday asked the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace Board of Directors to delay releasing its request for qualifications for information technology vendors for the insurance exchange. Sanders co-chairs the marketplace's legislative oversight committee.

U.S. Rep. French Hill after giving remarks at the Governor's Mansion to the Political Animals Club in 2014, prior to his election.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas’s congressional delegation is returning to Washington D.C. this week after a late-summer recess and halting federal funds to Planned Parenthood is a priority. Central Arkansas’s U.S. Representative French Hill wants a moratorium on funding while an investigation is launched. But the freshman Republican isn’t yet drawing a hard line in the sand over the looming funding battle.

Jacksonville resident Randy Dollar found out his Medicaid was cancelled in a hospital preparing for open-heart surgery.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A rally at the state Capitol on Wednesday tried to drive home the message that Arkansas’s beleaguered Medicaid verification process is resulting in some very real physical pain for low-income Arkansans.

Arkansas’ private option has reduced the state’s uninsured ranks, reduced uncompensated care, and strengthened the overall insurance marketplace serving other insurance recipients, a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation says.

The report, released on Wednesday, drew on data and on interviews conducted in April and May with state officials, medical providers, insurance carriers and advocates. The foundation analyzes national and global health policies.

Arkansas' insurance commissioner says health insurance rates on the state's marketplace will increase by no more than 7.15 percent next year.

The Arkansas Insurance Department approved the 2016 rates for companies participating in Arkansas' health insurance marketplace, which was established under the federal health care overhaul. More than 57,000 Arkansans receive tax credits to purchase insurance through the exchange.

Governor Asa Hutchinson John Selig Medicaid DHS Department of Human Services
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

The consultant hired by the Health Reform Legislative Task Force said Thursday that a standard 30-day deadline for responding to a request for income verification for Medicaid eligibility is “probably appropriate,” while Department of Human Services Director John Selig defended the state’s current 10-day deadline.

Governor Asa Hutchinson John Selig Medicaid DHS Department of Human Services
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson laid out a seven-point plan Wednesday that would continue Arkansas’ participation in the Medicaid expansion through the private option while requiring recipients to participate in employer-sponsored plans and pay premiums.

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