Arkansas Healthcare

Local & Regional News
10:53 am
Thu January 16, 2014

State Representative Applies To Run Arkansas Insurance Exchange

The Arkansas lawmaker who sponsored the law creating the Health Insurance Marketplace Board has applied to serve as the marketplace's executive director.

Republican Rep. Mark Biviano is one of two applicants who've applied for the position to oversee the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace.

Arkansas has partnered with the federal government to run its exchange, but the state is exploring whether to establish its own state-run insurance marketplace.

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Local & Regional News
7:55 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Plenty Of Young Arkansans Choose Private Option, says DHS

Some enrollees for Arkansas's 'Private Option' version of Medicaid Expansion found they were eligible after applying for coverage through the federally-run website, healthcare.gov.
Credit 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.

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Local & Regional News
2:23 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Special Election Bodes Ill For Arkansas Health Plan

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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Local & Regional News
4:05 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Part Two Of Payment Improvement Initiative Is Underway

Primary care physicians who enrolled to be Patient Centered Medical Homes will start to see the benefits this month. The concept encourages doctors to treat chronic conditions and encourage prevention for their patients.

In return, the participating physicians receive financial support and 24/7 phone lines for patients, among other things. Medical Director for Arkansas Medicaid, William Golden, says enrollment has already exceeded expectations.

Local & Regional News
3:38 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Arkansas Legislative Race Could Impact Medicaid Expansion

Nurses work inside a hospital.

The outcome of a special election Tuesday for a northeast Arkansas Senate seat could be a factor in the long-term viability of the state’s Medicaid expansion.

The race will determine whether Democrat Steve Rockwell or Republican John Cooper will serve the remainder of former state Senator Paul Bookout’s term. Bookout, a Democrat, vacated the post due to ethics violations.

Political analyst Jay Barth from Hendrix College says Bookout voted for the "private option" plan to expand Medicaid, a plan that will be under review by lawmakers during next month's fiscal session.

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Local & Regional News
3:00 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Legislature Will Meet To Discuss 2015 Budget

The finance department projects a 2% increase of about $95 million  in general revenue, available for state agencies to spend in the upcoming fiscal year. The Legislative Council and Joint Budget Committee begin meetings Tuesday to discuss the current 2014 fiscal session and the 2015 budget which goes into affect July 1st.

Representative Duncan Baird, Joint Budget Committee Co-Chairman, says the Department of Human Services will join them Thursday to discuss Medicaid and the private option.

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Public Health
4:48 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Lung Cancer On The Decline In Arkansas

Credit Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Thursday show the rate of lung cancer is in decline around the nation. The same is true in Arkansas. After a steady increase for a number of years, the state has seen a sharp decline in lung cancer from around 84 cases per 100,000 people in 2007 to 70 cases per 100,000, according to Dr. Gary Wheeler of the Arkansas Department of Health. Though he says the state struggled for many years to prevent a rise in lung cancer.

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Public Health
6:46 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Flu On The Rise In Arkansas

Credit Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

Cases of Influenza are widespread this year in Arkansas. Health officials say the virus has been spreading rapidly throughout the southeast.

Kerry Krell of the Arkansas Department of Health says the most prevalent strain this year is H1N1, which is known to affect young, healthy people more often than other strains. She says this season’s flu outbreak has shown a pattern of severity that should lead people to take precautions as it has already led to some fatalities in the state.

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Local & Regional News
1:09 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

More Than 93K Applicants for Arkansas Private Option

The Arkansas Department of Human Services says more than 93,000 people have filed applications for health insurance under Arkansas' private option plan to expand Medicaid.

The state said Thursday that of those 93,000 applications, more than 74,000 have been deemed eligible for the private option.

This year, the Arkansas Legislature voted to use Medicaid money for private health insurance coverage for about 250,000 people.

The agency says about 5,900 people have been assigned to the traditional Medicaid plan because of health needs. The coverage starts Jan. 1.

Public Health
6:04 am
Thu December 12, 2013

As Arkansas Remains Highly Obese, State Health Officials Consider New Solutions

Credit Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

For the past decade, Arkansas health officials have taken significant steps to curb obesity in the state. But Arkansas still ranks third nationally in the percentage of obese adults, at nearly 35 percent of its total population last year. On Thursday and Friday, more than 60 public health experts and officials from around the state will convene at Petit Jean Mountain for a summit to assess ideas for dealing with the epidemic over the next ten years.  KUAR’s Chris Hickey spoke with two officials about previous policy efforts and what Arkansas can do about obesity in the future.

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