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Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday, May 15, 2015 - 10:00:00

No sunshine for the Health Reform Legislative Task Force

Legislative Council today rejected a proposal to livestream the proceedings of the Health Reform Legislative Task Force.

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Friday, May 15, 2015 - 09:47:00

Legislative Council approves Health Reform Task Force consulting contract

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.

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Friday, May 15, 2015 - 08:08:00

No "Kumbaya moments": dissension on the Health Reform Task Force over consultant

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.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thursday, May 14, 2015 - 14:37:00

The Health Reform Legislative Task Force is in the middle of a mess

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.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015 - 10:48:00

Former legislator John Burris and the Health Task Force consulting contract kerfuffle

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.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015 - 08:50:00

Health reform task force co-chairs unhappy with consultant choice, seek to nix 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. 

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday, May 8, 2015 - 16:56:00

Hospitals pay out millions to resolve False Claims Act allegations for unnecessary Medicare services

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).

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - 12:05:00

Arkansas to receive more than $2 million in Obamacare funding for four new community health centers

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.

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 09:33:00

Governor talks of realities of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion: Update

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.

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Monday, April 6, 2015

Monday, April 6, 2015 - 14:49:00

Obamacare worth more than $150 million to Arkansas, report says

Here are $150 million worth of reasons why Gov. Asa Hutchinson ultimately had no choice but to recommend continuation of the state's expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 10:10:00

Hutchinson: CFCO is issue for Healthcare Task Force, bill's time frame infeasible

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.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015 - 13:01:00

Bill would require state to clear waiting list for Medicaid developmental disabilities waiver

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.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - 10:04:00

Obamacare saves Arkansas seniors millions in drug costs, preventive health care

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.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Monday, February 9, 2015 - 14:43:00

Disability rights activists demand legislative action on Community First Choice Option

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.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 - 17:05:00

Vaccine exemptions in Arkansas: A CLARIFICATION

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.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015 - 13:40:00

HHS: Almost 57,000 Arkansans now enrolled in Health Insurance Marketplace

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.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015 - 17:05:00

Former Medicaid director and private option architect Andy Allison takes job with McKinsey

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.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015 - 13:45:00

Feds encouraging about possible private option tweaks, but Hutchinson not seeking immediate changes

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.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday, December 5, 2014 - 06:51:00

Dr. Rapert and them are in, practicing medicine on Arkansas women

A state Medical Board meeting yesterday illustrated an unsettling development — the Arkansas legislature is now practicing medicine.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 12:03:00

UPDATED: HHS says average Obamacare premium costs in Arkansas will drop by 3 percent in 2015

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.

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