Arkansas Healthcare

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

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.

Arkansas Health Care Task Force Hires Consultant For $1 Million-Plus

May 7, 2015

The Health Reform Legislative Task Force, the legislative panel considering changes to the state’s Medicaid system, voted to hire New Hampshire-based The Stephen Group for a maximum $1,036,500 contract to help the task force make its recommendations.

The firm must present a report to legislators by Oct. 1 and then will serve as a consultant through the task force’s existence through the end of 2016.

The Arkansas Legislative Council, which is a group of legislators who act as a quasi-Legislature between sessions, must approve the expenditure.

Arkansas prison and parole officials say about 70 percent of the state's more than 52,000 parolees and probationers have signed up for the state's compromise Medicaid expansion.

They told the Legislative Criminal and Justice Oversight Task Force on Thursday that enrollment in the 'private option' Medicaid program could reduce recidivism in the state's overcrowded prison system.

Republican state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson chairs the task force and said providing medical insurance provides parolees and probationers with mental health or substance abuse treatment at lesser costs.

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.