Arkansas Healthcare

Dental hygienists are starting to fill a crital gap in oral health in Arkansas, experts say, given the state has a  shortage of dentists, especially in low-income rural districts.

Sarah Kellogg / KUAR News

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary praised Arkansas for its commitment to its veterans while choosing not to speak as much to non-VA matters, such as proposed federal cuts to non-VA programs and comments from a Republican U.S senator from Arkansas concerning service members.

During a visit to the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans' Hospital in Little Rock Tuesday, Secretary Robert Wilkie discussed reorganization efforts within the VA. This includes the Mission Act, which changes how veterans can receive healthcare.

Dr. Brian Nichol medical marijuana doctor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas’s second medical marijuana dispensary opened one day earlier than expected. Green Springs Medical in Hot Springs began selling to people Sunday at about 4:15 p.m., according to KTHV-TV. It follows the opening Friday evening of Doctor’s Orders RX, which is also in Hot Springs. A steady stream of people lined up at the first dispensary through the weekend wanting to be among the first to get the drug.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Breast cancer screenings could become more accurate, more comfortable, and more common in Little Rock. That's the goal of the new Breast Center at CARTI, which officials announced Monday will open in June.

The new center aims to use the latest technology while also making the cancer screenings a more pleasant experience for women. Dr. Stacy Smith-Foley, a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, will lead the new center.

marijuana
npr.org

Arkansas’s first medical marijuana dispensary has been approved to open, though it’ll likely be about a week before it has product for sale. The state’s Alcohol Beverage Control, which is part of the Department of Finance and Administration and regulates medical marijuana, announced Friday that inspectors went through Doctor’s Orders RX in Hot Springs with the local fire marshal and found it met all required standards.

Asa Hutchinson signing bills
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

All bills passed during the 2019 session of the Arkansas General Assembly have been signed into law. Gov. Asa Hutchinson did not veto any bills this year. He signed the final pieces of legislation Wednesday afternoon alongside several lawmakers.

A formal adjournment is set to take place next Wednesday when lawmakers return to the Capitol for Sine Die. In some previous years, that has been when senators and representatives have had to consider whether to attempt to override gubernatorial vetoes, something that won’t be necessary this time.

The number of people served by the state’s Arkansas Works program increased by 4,215 from March 1 to April 1.

The state’s Department of Human Services reported Monday that the population April 1 was 240,177, compared to 235,962 on March 1. The difference represents a 1.8% increase from the March 1 total.

The April 1 total was the highest beginning-of-the-month total this year. On Jan. 1, it was 234,400.

Arkansas Works Governor Asa Hutchinson Work Requirement
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Trump administration is appealing recent rulings by a federal judge that blocked work requirements for some low-income people on Medicaid.

The rulings last month by Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C., blocked work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky. The Arkansas requirements were already in effect, while in Kentucky they are a top priority for Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

The Justice Department filed notice on Wednesday appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Medicaid Asa Hutchinson Mathew Shephard Jim Hendren
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

In a marginless vote of 75-18, the Arkansas House on Tuesday approved the $8.1 billion appropriations for the state’s Medicaid expansion program and other state Department of Human Services priorities only days after soundly rejecting the same measure.

All state budget bills must be approved by both the House and Senate by a three-fourths vote, meaning the 75 votes for Senate Bill 99 left no room for error. Last week, House Speaker Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado, predicted that the 100-member lower chamber would back the DHS-Medicaid biennial budget.

David Monteith / KUAR News

The 18,000 Arkansans who lost healthcare due to the state's work reporting requirement could begin receiving coverage again if a bill introduced Monday passes in the legislature.

Last week a federal judge ruled the requirement was unconstitutional. Rep. Reginald Murdock, D-Mariana, is the bill's co-sponsor. During a press conference Monday, he said the Department of Human Services has been unwilling or unable to share contact information for those who have lost coverage.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas was the first state in the nation to be granted a waiver by the federal government to impose a work requirement on those with healthcare coverage through the state’s Medicaid expansion. With Wednesday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg which halted the requirement, Arkansas leaders have been reacting on nationally-heard NPR programs.

The judge said the requirement undermines the very purpose of Medicaid which is to give medical care to low-income people .

Arkansas House Speaker Matthew Shephard, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Senate President Pro Tempore Jim Hendren speaking to reporters Thursday offering reaction to the ruling by U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg. Hutchinson says he is asking federal officia
Michael Hiblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is urging the Trump administration to pursue an expedited appeal of a U.S. district judge’s decision nullifying the Arkansas Works work requirement, while the Speaker of the House expects that body to vote in favor of funding the agency that administers the program on Friday.

The news came at a press conference Wednesday led by Hutchinson along with Speaker Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado, and Senate President Pro Tempore Jim Hendren, R-Sulphur Springs.

Arkansas Works Governor Asa Hutchinson Work Requirement
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A federal judge has ruled that work requirements under the Arkansas Works program are not legal and called for an immediate halt to that element of the program. The ruling could have significant budget implications for the state.

In a ruling issued late Wednesday, U.S. Federal Judge James Boasberg said the work requirement element applied in 2018 to Arkansas’ Medicaid system is not legal. He rejected claims by the state that striking down the provision would be disruptive.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Arkansans who receive health insurance through the state's Medicaid expansion program and must comply with a work requirement now have a new resource to get help reporting their hours of work. 

The Central Arkansas Library System is offering assistance with account setup and navigating the online reporting system at each of its 14 branches in Pulaski and Perry counties. 

Ed Holman, chairman of the Arkansas Residential Assisted Living Association, on the witness stand Wednesday while being questioned by plaintiff's attorney Ashley Hudson.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas will transition as planned Friday to a managed care system for treating the state’s mentally ill. After more than seven hours of arguments and testimony, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza refused on Wednesday night to issue a temporary restraining order requested by a group of residential care facilities.

Debate centered on whether three managed-care companies are ready to assume responsibility for about 43,000 Arkansans with varying degrees of mental illness.

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