Arkansas Healthcare

Governor Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says the Obama Administration has approved changes for Arkansas's Medicaid expansion program, though the waiver has stricter requirements than he wanted in providing assistance to employers who offer insurance for lower-income employees.

In a press conference Wednesday, Hutchinson said federal Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell called him Tuesday night, the day after they met in Washington, saying she would issue a letter Wednesday saying the waiver for the Arkansas Works program, previously known as the Private Option, would be granted.

Senate President Pro Tem Jonathan Dismang, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and House Speaker Jeremy Gillam
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and legislative leaders have appointed the five members of a board that will develop Arkansas' medical marijuana policy.

Hutchinson on Wednesday named Little Rock breast cancer surgeon Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission. House Speaker Jeremy Gillam appointed Benton pharmacist Stephen Carroll and lawyer Travis Story of Fayetteville. Senate President Pro Tem Jonathan Dismang named former Senate chief of staff James Miller of Bryant and pain specialist Dr. J. Carlos Roman of Little Rock.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson took part in meetings Monday in Washington, DC that could be key for the future of his Arkansas Works Medicaid expansion plan.

First he met with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell as he seeks a needed waiver for the program, which is a successor to the state's Private Option. He then met with members of President-elect Donald Trump's transition team.

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is to meet next week with members of the transition team for President-elect Donald Trump to discuss healthcare. It comes after the governor talked with Trump earlier this week by phone.

marijuana
npr.org

Labels for medical marijuana products sold in Arkansas would have to include details on their laboratory analysis, dosage and warnings under a draft of rules being prepared for the launch of the first medical pot program in the Bible Belt.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) at the state Capitol on Monday.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas voters approved medical marijuana earlier this month and the governor says he’s open to seeing if the voter-approved tax structure should be changed in January’s legislative session. Speaking to reporters at the state Capitol on Monday, Governor Asa Hutchinson said he hasn’t yet made up his mind on new taxes or shifting where marijuana revenue should go.

Medical Marijuana
Arkansans for Compassionate Care

A new Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey shows that opposition remains stronger than support for two medical marijuana proposals that will be on the November ballot.

The poll, conducted statewide among 463 likely Arkansas voters on October 21, 2016, has a margin of error of 4.6%.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media

Johnelle Shaw is a 27-year-old first-time mother with a two-month old son, Logan. She is visiting a lactation consultant at The Pulaski County Health Unit in Southwest Little Rock. Logan has a cold and is back for a breastfeeding check-in.  The consultant weighs him in at 7.6 ounces, a full pound bigger than he was at his last visit a month before.

Cindy Gillespie DHS director
Talk Business & Politics

More than 301,000 Arkansans are either receiving health insurance through the private option or have been deemed eligible for the program as of the end of September – an increase of almost 7,000 from the previous month.

marijuana
npr.org

The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected one of two efforts to block a medical marijuana proposal from the November ballot.

Medical Marijuana Backers Respond To Five Talking Points From Opposition

Sep 21, 2016
Arkansas Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe with Gov. Asa Hutchinson and other state health officials urging opposition to two medical marijuana ballot measures.
David Monteith / KUAR News

A few talking points against two medical marijuana ballot measures, many of them familiar, have cropped up over the past few weeks as opponents continue to make their case in a string of press conferences. Supporters of medical marijuana have heard them before and have retorts at the ready.

Jason Burt / Arkansas Business

Dr. Dan Rahn announced Monday he will retire July 31, 2017, as chancellor of the Little Rock-based University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. His departure will mark almost eight years as head of the state’s largest public employer.

UAMS has 3,021 students, 789 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other medical personnel who work at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS regional centers in Arkansas.

Arkansas lawmakers have endorsed an agency's plan to collect a 3 percent fee on plans offered through the state's health insurance exchange.

The Arkansas Health Insurance Market Place Legislative Oversight Committee on Wednesday backed the marketplace board's plan to begin collecting the fee in December. The 3 percent fee would replace a 3.5 percent fee that has been collected by the federal government since enrollment in the exchanges began two years ago.

(file photo) Family Council Action Committee Director Jerry Cox at his office.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

One of the key opposition groups that helped narrowly defeat a medical marijuana measure in 2012 is gearing up to do the same this fall. The Family Council Action Committee outlined its arguments and announced its intention to launch an active campaign at the state Capitol on Thursday.

Family Council’s director Jerry Cox laid forth the crux of his argument against the two medical marijuana ballot measures, “These measures are simply recreational marijuana masquerading as medicine.”

 Arkansas election officials have approved a second measure legalizing medical marijuana for the November ballot.

Secretary of State Mark Martin's office on Wednesday verified supporters of the proposed constitutional amendment legalizing the drug for some patients because they turned in more than enough signatures to qualify. Backers of the proposal turned in 97,284 signatures from registered voters, more than the 84,859 needed to earn a spot on the ballot.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders and Arkansas Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansans very well may have two medical marijuana ballot measures to vote on in November, with the battle firmly immersed in both political and scientific debates. 

medical money medicine
Talk Business & Politics

A group opposed to a ballot proposal that would place limits on damages in medical lawsuits is asking Arkansas' highest court to block voting on the proposed constitutional amendment in November.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

State and public school employees will make bigger contributions for their health insurance in 2017, but the big increases are coming in later years, legislators were told Wednesday.

At a State & Public School Life & Health Insurance Task Force meeting, John Colberg with the independent actuarial firm Cheiron told legislators that public school employees and retirees will see a 2% increase in 2017, while state employees and retirees will see a 3% increase.

marijuana
npr.org

A group opposing efforts to legalize medical marijuana has asked Arkansas' highest court to block a legalization proposal from appearing on the November ballot.

Attorneys for Arkansans Against Legalized Marijuana on Wednesday asked the state Supreme Court to block the proposed initiated act, which would allow people with certain medical conditions to buy the drug. The secretary of state's office last month verified the measure had enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

The lawsuit claims the wording of the proposal is misleading and omits key information.

Bart Hester
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The number of private option recipients whose insurance premiums are being paid by the program reached 258,161 in July, up 55,000 more than in January.

The number was 213,026 in January. In June, 250,885 were on the program, according to a letter and information sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson by Department of Human Services director Cindy Gillespie Aug. 17.

Arkansas Insurance Department Commissioner Alan Kerr (front) and Communications Director K Ryan James at a meeting of the Health Reform Legislative Task Force.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Arkansas Insurance Department is submitting health insurance rate increase requests to the federal government for approval on Tuesday and state officials are already expecting an even larger hike this time next year. 

marijuana
npr.org

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has again rejected a proposed constitutional amendment for the 2018 ballot to legalize marijuana in the state.

The proposal by Mary Berry of Summit would allow the cultivation, production, distribution, sale, possession and use of the cannabis plant and all products taken from the plant, including marijuana.

telemedicine
www.rochester.edu

A rule allowing doctors and patients to establish a relationship using audiovisual technology was approved by a legislative subcommittee Tuesday. But the rule still would not let some telemedicine companies operate in Arkansas, so those companies will attempt to change the law in next year’s legislative session.

Arkansans are healthier than they would have been without the Affordable Care Act, researchers say.  

A new study comparing health outcomes for low income residents of Arkansas, Kentucky, and Texas following the federal rollout of the Affordable Care Act has found states that expanded Medicaid saw the health benefits.

marijuana
npr.org

The Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation is joining with the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce in opposing two medical marijuana initiatives that are likely to be on the ballot this November.

Leslie Rutledge attorney general
oversight.house.gov/

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says federal law won't allow Arkansas to limit the number of people who are enrolled in the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion.

Rutledge told state Human Services Director Cindy Gillespie in an advisory opinion issued Monday that she didn't believe federal law would allow the state to put such limits on the program, which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for the poor. Lawmakers earlier this year approved a plan to continue the program, which was created as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law.

Arkansas is one of 16 states where physician practices will participate in a Medicare payment model reimbursing physicians for providing comprehensive, coordinated patient care.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Monday that beginning January 2017, the five-year Comprehensive Primary Care Plus model reimburses physicians for providing primary care and focuses on access and continuity, comprehensive and coordinated care management, patient and caregiver engagement, and planned care and population health.

The Arkansas Department of Health and Louisville, Kentucky-based Kindred Healthcare Inc. have announced the completion of the sale of the department's in-home health care operations for $39 million.

The finalized sale was announced Monday.

The state announced last August it was phasing out the program that provides in-home services to about 3,380 people.

Ted Suhl
Nelson Chenault / Arkansas Times

A federal jury convicted a north Arkansas man who owned several mental health facilities on bribery charges late Thursday afternoon. The Arkansas Times reports that after almost five hours of deliberations, Ted Suhl was found guilty of four of six counts for allegedly funneling money to a top official at the Arkansas Department of Human Services in exchange for getting preferential treatment from the state.

v
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansans may have the chance to vote on two medical marijuana initiatives in November. What happens if both pass? The one with the most votes wins, probably. Talk Business and Politics reports.

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