Arkansas Healthcare

When the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration announces its five highest scoring applicants to own and operate a marijuana cultivation facility for the state's germinating medical marijuana industry, it will be a surprise to the Medical Marijuana Commission who scored the 95 applicants.

"These 95 applications were scored individually by each commissioner. They were then brought back to the Alcoholic Beverage Control office [and] turned in individually; so at this point the commissioners are also going to learn along with everyone else those top five scores," Scott Hardin, spokesman for the department, said Monday.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters Monday he will call lawmakers back to the State Capitol shortly after the ongoing fiscal session to pass legislation to address growing concerns on rising health costs associated with so-called PBMs, or pharmacy benefit managers.

Asa Hutchinson Jonathan Dismang Jeremy Gillam
Arkansas Times

Arkansas Legislative leaders are asking Gov. Asa Hutchinson to call a special session to pass legislation that would license and regulate pharmacy benefit managers through the Arkansas Insurance Department. The governor is to address the request during a 3 p.m. press conference Monday.

Identical letters to that effect were written Friday by Senate President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, and Speaker of the House Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia.

File photo: Gov. Asa Hutchinson presenting part of his Arkansas Works plan, the state's version of Medicaid expansion.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Trump administration issued guidance to states on Thursday regarding the terms of adding work requirements for Medicaid coverage and Arkansas’s governor is ready to take advantage of the policy shift. Medicaid is a health insurance program for low-income people administered by states but primarily funded by the federal government. Eligibility is largely determined by income levels, which were expanded under the Affordable Care Act.

UAMS
UAMS.edu

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences says it will lay off 258 workers and leave another 350 or so positions unfilled as it addresses a $30 million hole in its budget.

The university chancellor notified 10,900 employees Monday. The school said in a statement it could no longer use reserve money to ensure that it wouldn't exceed its $1.5 billion budget. Spokeswoman Leslie Taylor said the cuts will save $30 million in the rest of this fiscal year and about $60 million next year.

UAMS has employees in 73 of the state's 75 counties.

marijuana
npr.org

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions threw a monkey wrench into the Natural State’s long-awaited launch of Arkansas’ medical marijuana industry next month by rolling back an Obama-era policy Thursday that opened the door to the legalization of pot in Arkansas and 29 other states.

Governor Asa Hutchinson DHS director Cindy Gillespie
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The governor of Arkansas is touting an 11 percent drop in the state's Medicaid rolls over the past year as he faces another potential fight in keeping the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion alive another year.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Thursday that enrollment in the state's Medicaid program dropped by more than 117,000 people from 2017 to 2018. Nearly 59,000 of that came from the state's hybrid expansion, which uses Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents.

Department of Human Services Director Cindy Gillespie and shows a progress chart to reporters alongside Division of Children and Family Services Director Mischa Martin.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Officials at the Arkansas Department of Human Services say more than 80,000 people were removed from the state's Medicaid rolls in 2017 after new technology and data were used to show they were ineligible for the benefits.

Nearly one-third of those cases involved people who did not report changes of address as required by the state. More than 25,000 people were removed from the program because they were receiving public benefits from more than one state.

Arkansas Center for Health Improvement President Joe Thompson (left) and Arkansas Insurance Department Commissioner Allen Kerr exchanging notes after speaking to a legislative committee.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Friday is the last day of open enrollment for signing up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s healthcare exchanges, or marketplaces

State officials are predicting more Arkansans to enroll this year than the last -despite efforts by the Trump administration to limit the enrollment period and to curtail outreach and advertisement about its existence.

The exchange has been open since November 1st and closes December 15th. Enrollees can choose between private insurance plans and determine eligibility for federal subsidies, made possible by the ACA.

US Department of Veterans Affairs

Friday marks the end of the enrollment period for people seeking insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

What was once a three month sign up period was shortened to 45 days under the Trump administration. Jim McDonald, executive director of Enroll the Ridge in Jonesboro, said the decreased timeframe changed the approach of the Arkansas’s navigators who help people sign up for insurance.

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