Arkansas Healthcare

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Increased drug costs have caused the state’s five-year match for Arkansas Works to rise from $705 million to $730 million, legislators were told by a consultant Monday.

The Stephen Group told the Health Reform Legislative Task Force that the waiver the state is seeking from the federal Department of Health and Human Services includes a state match that has risen by $25.4 million. The total estimated cost of the program has increased from $9.04 billion to $9.35 billion from the initial waiver request. Most will be funded by the federal government.


Backers of an effort to limit damages awarded in lawsuits against health care providers, a group proposing casinos in three Arkansas counties, and a group behind a second medical marijuana proposal have all turned in signatures in efforts to try and get their proposals on the Arkansas ballot.

The measures needed at least 84,859 signatures from registered voters to qualify for the November ballot. Friday was the deadline for proposals to turn in petitions for ballot measures.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas voters will again consider a medical marijuana proposal in November. After dropping off box loads of petition signatures at the Secretary of State's office a couple of weeks ago, members of the group Arkansans for Compassionate Care say they got word Thursday that enough were valid.

"We did get official news that we are certified for the ballot with 77,516 valid signatures which is nearly 10,000 over the required number. It's absolutely fabulous," said Campaign Director Melissa Fults.

David M. Clark Center for safe and healthy children at arkansas children's hospital
Arkansas Children's Hospital

The Clark Family Foundation is donating $2.5 million to Arkansas Children's Hospital to "support programs and services for abused and neglected children," including the David M. Clark Center for Safe and Healthy Children.

Medical Marijuana
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The final results from the latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll indicate strong support among Arkansas voters for medical marijuana. 

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling against a Texas abortion law has advocacy organizations in Arkansas evaluating their approach to reproductive rights in the Natural State.

A Kentucky company is spending $39 million to acquire an Arkansas state program that provides home health care to thousands of people.

The Arkansas Department of Health on Monday announced that the state signed an agreement with Kindred Healthcare, Inc. to acquire the state's in-home health care operations. State officials last year announced they were phasing out the program, provides in-home services such as health care and hospice, and shifting it to a private provider.

Medical Marijuana
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Backers of one of three marijuana-related proposals vying for the November ballot in Arkansas turned in dozens of boxloads of petitions to the Secretary of State's office Monday. Now it's up to officials to determine if there are enough legitimate signatures for it to be placed before voters.

Speaking to supporters in the Capitol Rotunda, organizer Melissa Fults with Arkansans for Compassionate Care argued the benefits are clear.

Medical Marijuana
Arkansans for Compassionate Care

The wording for three  ballot initiatives concerning marijuana have been approved by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. Two would allow medicinal use of the drug while the third would legalize all forms of the cannabis plant. Now backers of the proposals are gathering signatures.

Four years ago voters narrowly defeated a similar proposal. “The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act” was rejected by about 30,000 votes, 51-to-49 percent.

UAMS campus in Little Rock.

Talk Business and Politics reports

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is about to embark on a critical time for revenue, Dr. Dan Rahn, the school’s chancellor, told members of a newly formed “Friends of UAMS” chapter in Fort Smith.

Talk Business and Politics reports:

A new report by the United Health Foundation shows that Arkansas is among the unhealthiest states for seniors, mainly due to the high prevalence of obesity, physical inactivity and food insecurity. / Arkansas Insurance Department

Four of the five insurers offering policies on Arkansas' insurance marketplace next year under the federal health law have proposed rate increases of at least 10 percent.

The Arkansas Insurance Department on Tuesday said QualChoice Life and Health, QCA Health Plan Inc., Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association have each proposed the rate increases. The department says Ambetter has proposed a rate increase below 10 percent.

The Collaborative

Arkansas has enrolled the lowest percentage of healthcare exchange-eligible residents of any state nationwide, according to analysis done by a consortium of researchers from Rhode Island universities.

According to Robert Hackey, a professor of Health Policy and Management at Providence College, the Kaiser Family Foundation data shows only 19 percent of eligible Arkansans enrolled.

Unity Health, a Searcy-based health system, announced Thursday that it is the first medical provider in Arkansas to join the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

The arrangement means Unity Health doctors will have access to electronic consulting with physicians with the Mayo Clinic, one of the country’s top-ranked medical providers by U.S. News & World Report. Patient medical information such as MRI scans will be transmitted to those doctors. Unity Health also will have access to the AskMayoExpert database with information on disease management and care guidelines.

Arkansas Senate
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers are to formally adjourn the bi-annual fiscal session of the legislature Monday, with a general consensus that it was a productive, bi-partisan effort.

Last week included passage of a formal budget for the coming fiscal year. The start of the session saw debate and eventually approval of legislation to allow Arkansas to accept federal healthcare dollars to continue the state's Medicaid expansion plan, providing coverage for more than a quarter million low income residents.

Steps leading up the Arkansas Senate chamber.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

An attempt in the Arkansas Senate on Tuesday to override Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto – that allowed for Medicaid expansion to continue – failed on a voice vote. Many on both sides expected the veto override move to fall short of the needed majority since nearly all of the lawmakers who sent the budget bill to the governor's desk- knowing in advance he planned to veto the provision that would end Medicaid expansion - were supporters of his Arkansas Works plan.

The floor of the Arkansas Senate.

Backers of Arkansas’s Medicaid expansion plan are expected to try again this week to overcome the resistance of a minority of Republican lawmakers and pass a budget bill. 

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson and legislative leaders are trying to persuade wary Democrats to back a plan to save Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion by initially voting to defund the subsidized health coverage for thousands of poor people.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers are taking a long weekend after hitting a budget standoff over the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion.

House and Senate leaders on Thursday said they're recessing until Tuesday afternoon. The announcement follows the Medicaid budget bill funding the hybrid expansion failing to win the 27 votes needed in the Senate.

An alternate plan aimed at allowing the governor to reinstate the program if it's not included in Medicaid's budget has also stalled, and House Democrats say they don't want to vote on any other budget bills until the impasse is resolved.

Jonathan dismang
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Republican opponents of Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion have blocked funding for the expanded coverage and a host of other programs for the poor and disabled.

The Senate on Thursday voted 25-10 in favor of the Medicaid budget bill funding the hybrid expansion, two votes shy of the 27 needed for passage. It was unclear when supporters would try another vote on the bill, and the Senate sent the measure back to the Joint Budget Committee.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers are taking up the funding bill for the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion, despite predictions that opponents have enough votes to block the expanded coverage for thousands of poor people.

The Senate was expected Thursday to take up the Medicaid budget bill, which includes funding for the hybrid expansion. The program uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents.

Arkansas Sen. Larry Teague speaking to reporters after Wednesday's committee vote, urging passage of the governor's plan.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

The written article is compiled from Associated Press reports.

Funding for Arkansas' first-in-the-nation hybrid Medicaid expansion is heading toward its first vote in the Legislature's fiscal session.

The Joint Budget Committee on a voice vote Wednesday advanced the Medicaid budget bill that funds the program, which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for thousands of lower-income people.

The Senate is expected to take up the measure Thursday.

Arkansas House of Representatives.

Arkansas lawmakers have convened a fiscal session focused on the state's budget, with a standoff looming over the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion.

Wednesday opponents of the healthcare program filed a proposal to cap enrollment and terminate the expanded coverage by the end of the year.

Republican Senator Bart Hester wants to repeal legislation signed into law last week with Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to rework the program. It uses federal funds to buy private insurance for low-income residents. Republican Rep. Bob Ballinger filed an identical version in the House.

hutchinson medicaid
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Failure to pass his Arkansas Works program could lead to the cancellation of a planned special session for highways, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday.

Arkansas House Speaker Jeremy Gillam during the April 2016 special session on Medicaid expansion.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas House leaders say a host of state programs including public schools, prisons and colleges would face cuts if lawmakers don't fund the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion.

Arkansas House Speaker Jeremy Gillam on Monday released an alternate budget detailing the cuts needed if legislation funding the expanded coverage isn't approved. The Legislature last week approved Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to keep and rework the expansion, which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for the poor.

Gov. Radio Column: Passage of Ark. Works

Apr 9, 2016
Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R)
Governor's Office

The following is a transcript of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's radio column for the weekend of April 8, 2016:

  This is Governor Asa Hutchinson…

There was one key bill on the agenda of the three-day extraordinary session of the General Assembly: Arkansas Works. Arkansas Works provides greater emphasis on work opportunities, requires a personal investment in healthcare, increases usage of employer-based insurance and implements cost-saving measures.

Governor Asa Hutchinson Arkansas Works Healthcare
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed into law his plan to keep and rework the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion, as he now faces a fight from fellow Republicans who want to block the program's funding.

On Friday he signed into law two bills outlining his proposed changes to the program, which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for more than 250,000 low-income residents. The program was created three years ago as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law.

Charlie Collins
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Arkansas legislators have given initial approval to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to continue a modified form of the state's Medicaid expansion, but the margins suggest it will be an uphill battle to approve funding.

Arkansas House of Representatives.

Arkansas lawmakers are taking up Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to keep and rework the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion.

Health Care Execs Discuss Challenges Amid Changing Laws, Demographics

Apr 6, 2016

Healthcare is changing as hospitals modify services away from fee-based compensation to an outcome-based system in compliance with the Affordable Care Act. That, and workforce shortages, were among the challenges discussed Wednesday at the Northwest Arkansas Council’s Health Care Summit in Rogers.

Changing the entire mindset of the health care sector and the patients it serves is taking place in accordance with the Affordable Health Care Act, said Dr. Bill Bradley, president and CEO of Washington Regional Medical System.