Legislators Mull Private Option Risks

by Talk Business & Politics staff (staff2@talkbusiness.net) 2 views 

From our content partner, KUAR-FM 89 News:

Community health clinics, which provide services to the neediest Arkansans, are objecting to one aspect of the private option.

At a hearing Thursday (July 25), the leaders of several clinics told state lawmakers that a waiver included in the plan will cut into reimbursements so deeply that some won’t be able to stay open.

But some Republicans dispute whether they will indeed be affected.

The community health clinics are reimbursed at a higher rate than other providers because they’re required to offer services to everyone, regardless of whether they have coverage. There are 83 sites in Arkansas located in underserved areas.

Allan Nichols, CEO of Mainline Health Systems, told members of the Public Health Committee that a waiver included in the private option legislation, approved during this year’s legislative session, will cut deeply into their budgets.

“We want to serve. We’re not here to file lawsuits. We’re not here to do that. We want to serve people, that’s it. And we’re very fragile. We’re non-profits with very, very thin margins that cannot sustain bumps in the road,” Nichols said.

“If bumps happen, I can list the names of the communities that get to suffer those bumps. I can list the names of the providers that won’t be here for those bumps. For me, this right here has the projection of 20 out of my 65 people will go away. Two of my six sites will disappear and it’s just absolute because they’re operating at such a thin line that it’s just not possible to take a hit.”

Some legislators disagreed on whether revenue for the centers would be at risk.

Representative John Burris (R-Harrison) argued that under the private option, patients in need of the care would be placed under a separate funding designation.

Burris also had a testy exchange with Sip Mouden, CEO of Community Health Centers of Arkansas.  Additionally, John Selig, director of the Department of Human Services, addressed the committee’s concerns.

Read more and listen to a radio report from KUAR’s Michael Hibblen at this link.