Thursday, August 30, 2012

Week In Review

State Capitol Week in Review
        LITTLE ROCK –  Arkansas is one of seven markets chosen by the federal government to begin a plan with private health insurance companies and Medicaid officials to improve primary medical care.
        It is called the Comprehensive Primary Care initiative and it is run by the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  The agency will pay a management fee of $20 per month for each beneficiary treated by participating physicians.  In return, the physicians and their clinics must agree to provide enhanced services.
        The enhanced services include staying open for longer hours on weekends or providing counseling about nutrition and how to stop smoking.  They also include a commitment to coordinate care for the patient, especially for those with special needs and chronic diseases.
        The state of Arkansas is one of only seven markets in the United States chosen for the initiative.  The others are the Tulsa metropolitan area, the Cincinnati-Dayton area of Ohio along with parts of Kentucky across the Ohio River from Cincinnati,  the states of Colorado, New Jersey and Oregon and a cluster of cities and towns along the Hudson River between New York City and Albany.
        In Arkansas the initiative will pay the management fee to 66 practices with 228 physicians and about 51,000 patients.  The primary care practices are fairly spread out across the state.  A factor in choosing which clinics could participate was their use of technology and ability to maintain and transmit medical records electronically.
        Besides the Arkansas Medicaid program, these private health insurance companies are participating: Blue Cross and Blue Shield, QualChoice and Humana. 
        Participating physicians who treat Medicaid patients and those with coverage by Blue Cross, QualChoice and Humana will be eligible for the $20 management fee.
        Nationwide, more than 500 clinics with more than 313,000 patients are in the initiative.  Of the seven health care markets chosen, Arkansas is the single largest.  The initiative is for four years and begins this fall.
        Similar programs in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Seattle have reduced the number of hospitalizations required by patients.  They also lower the number of readmissions to the hospital and the number of emergency room visits. 
        As a result, costs went down for insurance companies and self-insured businesses.  Finally, the populations who received the enhanced primary care services were healthier.  They received more preventive care and they took a more active role in managing their own health care needs.
Correction Department Horse Auction
        The Correction Department will hold its second annual horse auction on September 15 at the Saline County Fairgrounds in Benton.
        You may bid on more than 30 retired horses from the department’s working herd, which numbers about 450.  The horses are excellent for pleasure and trail riding,  a spokesman said, because they are a cross between quarter horses and draft horses.  Years of cross breeding has produced a line that works well for the prison system and most are not high spirited.
        If you're interested in bidding on the horses you may view and ride them from 9 a.m.  to 3 p.m. on September 14 at the Saline County Fairgrounds. The horses may be viewed from 8 a.m. to noon and the sale will begin at 1 p.m. on September 15.

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