Legislative Council today approved the contract for the million-dollar contract for the Stephen Group on a voice vote. After plenty of fireworks in yesterday's meeting of the Legislative Council Executive Subcommittee, it sounds like today's meeting of the full Council was relatively drama-free.
Lots of fireworks, salty comments, and tense feelings in yesterday's Legislative Council Executive Subcommittee meeting on the Health Reform Task Force consulting contract. This little procurement spat may not have a major substantive impact on policy, but if it undermines the task force, it could spell trouble for the future of the private option. Here's the highlights and lowlights from yesterday.
The Legislative Council Executive Subcommittee will hear a recommendation from the Health Reform Task Force not to offer a contract to the consultant that won the task force vote. Whatever you think of the consultant question, it's a political mess, and Council members might fear that overruling the majority of the task force will derail the entire task force process.
A little bit of inside baseball on this week's drama in the Health Reform Legislative Task Force. A familiar face in the private option debate is in the mix as the task force scuffles over a consulting contract.
A little bit of drama is brewing on the Health Reform Legislative Task Force: the task force’s GOP leadership was on the losing side in selecting a consultant, and now they're seeking to overrule the vote.
The federal Justice Department announced yesterday that 16 hospitals and their corporate parents have agreed to pay almost $16 million in a settlement over Medicare services which were not “medically reasonable or necessary.”
Among the hospitals were two in Arkansas: Southwest Regional Medical Center in Little Rock (now closed and acquired by Baptist Health) and Summit Medical Center in Van Buren (now Sparks Medical Center).
Arkansas continues to benefit from Obamacare funding: the federal Department of Health and Human Services today announced more $2,432,180 in funds available via the Affordable Care Act will go to four new community health centers in the state. The centers will offer comprehensive primary care services and are projected to increase access to health care for almost 10,000 patients.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson is speaking this morning to his task force created to come up with some political cover for keeping the benefits of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion or otherwise pull a health care ranbit out of a hat that can cover a quarter-million Arkansans at no cost to the state.
It sounds like Gov. Asa Hutchinson will not be supporting the bill by Rep. Josh Miller (R-Heber Springs) to require the state to clear its eight year waiting list for developmental disabilities waivers.
Tomorrow, the House Public Health committee is expected to vote on a bill by Rep. Josh Miller (R-Heber Springs) that would pave the way for implementing the Community First Choice Option (CFCO). Expect the nursing home lobby to put up a fight.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services distributed a news release today to tout the billions in savings by Medicare recipients on prescription drugs and preventive health care thanks to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare if that's your epithet of choice. Arkansas has benefited disproporationately.
Advocates of the disabled and the elderly rallied at the Capitol rotunda this morning to urge the legislature to sign off on the Community First Choice Option (CFCO), the federal program that would allow individuals who qualify for institutional care under Medicaid to instead receive at-home or community-based services. Among those who showed up: Republican Rep. Josh Miller, a staunch foe of the private option but a friend of the CFCO.
In 2003, the Arkansas legislature decided to add to existing exemptions for religious and medical reasons another exemption to immunization: philosophical grounds. That means if you don't want to immunize your child before sending him off to school, you don't have to. You do have to be granted an exemption from the state Department of Health.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, which oversees implementation of the Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare), says that 56,970 people in the state are signed up for coverage through the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace as of Jan. 30. Nationally, the figure is 7.5 million. The deadline to sign up for an individual insurance plan this year is Feb. 15.
Andy Allison, the former Arkansas Medicaid director who served as the principal policy architect and manager of the private option, has taken a job as a Senior Expert with McKinsey & Company, the prominent multinational consulting firm. Allison began last week, a little over six months after he left his post at the Arkansas Department of Human Services.
One surprise in Gov. Asa Hutchinson's speech today on the private option: While he's setting up a task force to look at major changes to the design of the health care coverage expansion in 2017, he's not going to to be seeking immediate tweaks or additional "conservative reform" wrinkles.
A report released by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows that premiums for a midgrade insurance policy purchased on the health insurance exchange will increase by a modest 2 percent before consumer subsidies are applied. In Arkansas, premiums will decline by 3 percent on average in 2015. Historically, double-digit hikes are the norm in the insurance world.
A legal expert says the statute of limitations had NOT expired when Springdale police dropped an investigation of child molestation in the Jim Bob Duggar home. And evidence emerges that the Duggars will get protective treatment from Fox News in Megyn Kelly's interview tomorrow. Surprise.
The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported over the weekend, though the Little Rock edition did not, that it had interviewed an unnamed church elder about Jim Bob and Josh Duggar's meeting with then-State Trooper Joseph Hutchens to report Josh Duggar's improper contact with girls in the Duggar household.