Hourly news and comment
The guide to Arkansas entertainment
For food lovers
On art in Arkansas
A view from Northwest Arkansas
Time to feedback on what you've been eating this week. Let us know what's got you drooling.
The time commitment required to park yourself at the feet of Baja Grill, it will be well worth your effort. Take a seat on their ample outdoor seating while the weather is still permissive, and bask in the glow of burrito brilliance.
Gus's in the River Market brings incredible chicken to Little Rock.
Do-it-yourself crafting studio, gifts and more.
Photographs, architectural plans, furniture and a talk by design experts.
"Beautiful Uprising" reception tonight, talk by artist Saturday.
My overriding emotion about the fate of state Treasurer Martha Shoffner is sadness. /more/
Americans are instinctively wiser than their leaders when it comes to foreign policy, at least until their emotions are manipulated to support mindless war. /more/
Riverfest. Memorial Day. My car's 10th birthday.
I'm going to take it easy, gearing up for about my 20th trip to Arkansas Boys State next week. They're going to roll out instant polling of the delegates by cellphone for speakers this year, speakers' choice. I'm tempted to ask: "Is this speaker crazy or what?"
The line is open.
Good news on the Medicaid cost front: in a joint Public Health committee meeting today, Department of Human Services officials testified that for the third straight quarter, cost growth of the program has slowed. This represents the slowest growth in 25 years (spending is still rising but is rising significantly more slowly than the long-term trend), and comes despite an improving economy and an increase in the rate of enrollment. Along with additional money coming in via healthcare expansion, the reduced costs mean that Medicaid providers will not face rate cuts or freezes as planned.
It’s too early to ascribe the cost reductions to the Payment Improvement Initiative, which incentivizes providers to control costs, but it’s looking more and more like the Initiative — which is in its early phases, so far only covering five episodes of care — has been effective at beginning to influence provider behavior on their own and spurring them to identify low-hanging fruit in terms of unnecessary spending. In health policy language this is the "sentinel effect”: basically, you’re likely to work more efficiently if you know someone is going to be looking over your shoulder.
DHS had planned to add four new episodes of care to the initiative, but they hit a roadblock today in the legislative review process. Legislators peppered them with a series of meandering questions (and comments) focused on one of the episodes, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), complete with lots of irrelevant discussion about whether it was really an illness or whether parents should just do a better job of disciplining their kids. Leaving aside the legislators’ belittling of ODD, many seemed completely unaware that whether or not Medicaid should cover it was not up for debate. The question was simply whether to include the new episodes of care in a reform effort to reduce costs (indeed, if a legislator was worried that something like ODD leads to overcharging, including it in the payment initiative would be one way to help alleviate those concerns). In the end, the committee passed on giving their stamp of review, following the dubious logic of Rep. Kelley Linck, who said "when there’s this many questions, I’ve always found that voting no or turning it down always makes it come back better" (which means that anything is bound to fail with the likes of Rep. Kim Hammer in the room, offering up a diarrhetic barrage of quantity-not-quality legislative oversight).
The final decision to delay was issued by the Senate Chair Cecile Bledsoe, who happens to also be a general opponent of the Payment Improvement Initiative (Bledsoe can be counted on to fight anything that might possibly nick at a doctor's paycheck). The decision, made informally and without discussion, will likely delay implementation of the four new episodes, which will cut into cost savings (projected to be more than $1 million per year in total, 30 percent of which is Arkansas's portion of the federal-state match).
DHS officials plan to work with Bledsoe and House Chair John Burris to get members additional information, and hope to avoid having to wait until the next joint meeting (currently unscheduled). DHS spokesperson Amy Webb added that in the future they will aim to do more to address concerns with members prior to meetings. I suspect that she is overestimating their willingness to do homework ahead of time and underestimating their ability to think up random questions on the fly, but we shall see. After the jump, a few classic Rep. David Meeks tweets (Tweeks?) during the irrelevant discussion on ODD.
The arrest of State Treasurer Martha Shoffner, Bloomberg versus Pryor, Cotton's wackiest turn yet, stealing Cornish hens and big-time football at the fiscally distressed Mineral Springs School District — all covered on this week's podcast.
Stream on the jump.
Subscribe via iTunes (and give us a review; it helps people discover the podcast).
Here's a very tasty jam from Fayetteville's Cate Brothers, performing in 1976 on the BBC's "Old Grey Whistle Test." This tune, "In One Eye and Out the Other," is the title track of the band's second album, released on Asylum Records.
I am heavily digging that funky clavinet, and the playing is just beyond tight. Truly one of the great under-heralded bands of the era. You can still catch Earl Cate playing with Earl & Them. They gig all the time, and they're set to play at Stickyz June 8.
The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau recently announced an upcoming free jazz series at History Pavilion in Riverfront Park. Jazz in the Park will run on Wednesday evenings in June and July, and kicks off June 5 with a performance from Rodney Block & The Real Music Lovers.
While the concerts are free, attendees are not allowed to bring coolers. But fret not, thirsty jazz lovers: there'll be beer and wine available for purchase, with proceeds going to benefit Sculpture at the River Market. Do, however, bring a chair and/or a blanket, for sitting on. There's also seating available in the stone amphitheater at the History Pavilion.
Here's the full schedule:
June 5 - Rodney Block & The Real Music Lovers
June 12 - TwiceSax
June 19 - Adams Collins Group
June 26 - Bob Boyd Sounds
July 3 - The Johnny Burnette Group
July 10 - UA Monticello Jazz Combo
July 17 - Walter Henderson & Chris Parker
July 24 - Happy Tymes Jazz Band
July 31 - Dizzy7
Here's the latest in our music video series collaboration with Greg Spradlin and Camp Friday Films. It features Buddy Flett, the legendary Louisiana guitarist, live at White Water Tavern. A founding member of A-Train and the The Bluebirds, Buddy's forthcoming album on Honeybee Records was produced by Jason Weinheimer at Fellowship Hall Sound.
I have been to Baja many times in the last year. I can honestly say…
An outdoor music facility probably makes more sense for Fayetteville than it does in Benton…
Reading the obituary reminds me how great Roy Reed's biography of Faubus is.
A&E Feature / To-Do List / In Brief / Movie Reviews / Music Reviews / Theater Reviews / A&E News / Art Notes / Graham Gordy / Books / Media / Dining Reviews / Dining Guide / What's Cookin' / Calendar / The Televisionist / Movie Listings / Gallery Listings