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Create a tool-lending library
The city of Little Rock should create a tool-lending library of sorts, with a city-owned repository of basic tools and yard equipment that residents could borrow, much like a library book. Many families have sheds full of such equipment that is utilized only once or twice a month, or perhaps even once annually. In these difficult economic times a program such as this might provide just the boost and inspiration needed for individuals who may not otherwise be able to access such commodities. Wouldn't it be terrific to have a resource where you could borrow a ladder, lawn mower, tile saw, drill, floor nailer, rake, etc.? Items could be secured with a cash deposit or credit card, and residents could check items out for a specified period of time.
Maybe patrons could also borrow "how-to" DIY instruction manuals, and such a library could organize periodic training days to encourage and empower residents of the city to tackle home and community improvement projects. A handful of these programs exist around the country in cities such as Columbus, Berkeley, Atlanta and Seattle. Little Rock is a city in which the historic preservation opportunities are abundant, and programs such as this could be a vital component in the revitalization of homes and communities throughout our city. A Seattle-based non-profit group called Share Starter now offers a free "Tool Library Starter Kit" to any community interested in starting its own lending library.
Jennifer Carman is the president of J. CARMAN Inc., a fine-art advisory and appraisal firm based in Little Rock.
Cut health-care costs, improve care
By David Ramsey
In October, the Arkansas Department of Human Services began the Payment Improvement Initiative, a program to lower Medicaid costs and improve the quality of care via a partnership with the state's biggest private insurance companies, which will create incentives for providers who meet those goals. If the initiative works, the state will save millions of dollars, and health-care officials across the country will look to Arkansas as they scramble for ideas to "bend the cost curve." Already, the Kaiser Foundation has lauded the initiative as a "bold effort to cut Medicaid costs [and] add transparency" and the National Association of Medicaid Directors has suggested that Arkansas's plan could be a model for other states.
"The health-care system, including Medicaid in Arkansas, for years has been growing in costs much faster than the economy has been growing, which increasingly puts pressure on all of us to manage cost in some way, while keeping quality high or even improving quality," DHS director John Selig says.