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Arkansas DHS preparing for new community-based health initiatives

A map shows the potential location of Life360 Homes under the Arkansas Department of Human Services ARHOME Medicaid expansion program.
Arkansas Center for Health Improvement
A map shows the potential location of Life360 Homes under the Arkansas Department of Human Services ARHOME Medicaid expansion program.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services is preparing to roll out new public health services as part of ARHOME, the state’s Medicaid expansion program.

DHS officials say they soon expect to receive approval from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for their Life360 HOME initiative to provide more services to populations most at risk of negative health outcomes.

In a webinar Thursday hosted by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, Nell Smith, assistant director of the DHS Division of Medical Services, said the department will contract with local hospitals to provide care for three categories of Medicaid recipients.

“The Maternal Life360 Homes will provide home visiting services to women with high-risk pregnancies. The Rural Life360 Homes will provide care coordination services to individuals with serious mental illness or substance abuse disorders who are living in rural areas. And then Success Life360 Homes will provide help with life skills and social-related health needs for young adults who are most at risk,” Smith said.

Women must have a high-risk pregnancy diagnosis to take part in the Maternal Life360 program, and live within a service area to be defined by hospitals. Smith says hospitals will likely contract with existing home visiting companies, which will continue to monitor patients up to two years after birth. Hospitals will be paid monthly by DHS based on the number of patients enrolled in the program.

Another part of the program will help create acute crisis units at hospitals in rural parts of the state, with the goal of treating people with severe mental illness and substance use disorder. Smith says smaller communities in highly-populated counties will still be eligible, such as the northwest Arkansas town of Gravette.

“The Gravette Hospital is a critical access hospital, but obviously Benton County is a very large county. So we wanted to make sure that we weren’t excluding critical access hospitals just because they happen to be in a county that’s highly populated,” Smith said.

Under the program, DHS will pay smaller hospitals to operate 24/7 Acute Crisis Units. Enrollees in the program must have a diagnosis of mental illness or a substance use disorder, and can receive care coordination for up to two years.

The third part of the program, Success Life360 Homes, will see hospitals contract with community organizations to help young adults most at risk of long-term poverty.

“The community organizations will help clients with health-related social needs, including finding safe housing, accessing education, applying for employment, getting a driver’s license, those types of real-world needs,” Smith said.

Aside from being Medicaid recipients, enrollees must either be formerly in foster care, formerly incarcerated, formerly in custody of the state Division of Youth Services or be a military veteran to take part in the program. Veterans aged 19 to 30 are eligible, while the program is restricted to former foster children aged 19-27 and those aged 19-24 formerly in custody of the state’s correctional system.

According to the DHS, as many as 49 hospitals in Arkansas could be eligible to take part in the Success Life360 Home program, while 30 are eligible for the rural program and 39 for the maternal health program.

Arkansans must receive health insurance through the state’s Medicaid expansion to be eligible for the new services under the Life360 Home program. Smith says DHS hopes to have the program up and running by the beginning of next year.

Daniel Breen is News Director of Little Rock Public Radio.