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Rural Providers Concerned Over AR Health Overhaul

Arkansas' plan to provide health coverage for more than 200-thousand people lacking insurance is less than 3 months away.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas' plan to provide health coverage for more than 200-thousand people lacking insurance is less than 3 months away.

But before the so-called "private option" can get final approval, the state has to hear from the public.

Some rural health providers telling the Department of Human Services they have serious concerns about one important details of the plan.

Many rural health centers are the front and sometimes only line of healthcare for thousands in the state.

Located in all four corners of the state like Marianna in the Delta, to Marked Tree, Marshall and Mount Ida.

Sip Mouden is the CEO of Community Health Centers of Arkansas and has serious concerns over a detail of Arkansas' plan to place uninsured Arkansans on private health coverage.

"Can you imagine what it takes to bring in physicians, nurses and dentists into these underserved areas where the private physicians have already been and left because they couldn't sustain a business," Mouden says.

Right now the 1115 waiver DHS is preparing to send to federal Medicaid officials asks to let rural health centers to get paid whatever the private market bears, instead of a set amount from Medicaid.

"If the health centers don't get the revenue to sustain their model of care we're going to be in trouble and there's going to be some health centers that may end up closing," Mouden says.

State Medicaid director Andy Allison will field public input for the next 30 days before submitting the final plan to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in August.

"This is certainly a change," Allison says. "I think the comments you hear today illustrate that this proposal is different."
   
DHS has another public hearing set for Monday July 8 in Ft. Smith with a third meeting still in the planning stages according to Allison.
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