Capitol Notebook: Bill To Repeal ‘Outcome Measures Testing’ Filed

by Michael Wilkey ( 24 views 

A testing program used by healthcare providers and the state to determine behavioral problems may not be reaching its desired effect, a state representative said Wednesday.

Rep. Dan Sullivan, R-Jonesboro, filed House Bill 1072, which would seek to repeal the so-called “Outcome Measures Testing” within the Division of Behavioral Health Services at the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Sullivan, who is co-sponsoring the bill with State Sen. John Cooper, R-Jonesboro, said he has spoken with DHS officials about the program. The program tests children and adults with various problems in 90-day intervals to try to reach an outcome, Sullivan said.

“It was good for therapy, but not so good with the outcome,” Sullivan said.

If approved by the House and Senate and signed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the change would have no impact on services, would not cost the state or taxpayers any money and would help to maintain quality of care, Sullivan said.

Currently, there is a cost for the state paying for the tests, a cost in tracking the data as well as a cost for the training and purchase of equipment to do the tests. Also, under the proposed bill, providers can do the tests independently, Sullivan said.

According to the bill, it would also identify up to $2 million a year in:

· Meeting extraordinary, non-Medicaid reimbursable needs of children, youth and their families, as identified in multi-agency plans of services.
· Supporting creation or strengthening of entities designed to guide the development and operation of local, regional and state components of the system of care.
· Strengthen family and advocate skills and capacity to provide meaningful input on the system of care.
· Supporting the development and enhancement of needed behavioral healthcare services in underserved areas.

Sullivan said the bill will likely be sent to the state House Public Health, Welfare and Labor committee Thursday.

It was a relatively light day on the House floor as the House overwhelmingly approved three measures.

The House voted 97-0 to approve SB 1, to cover the expenses for the 35-member state Senate through June 30.

Half of the $1.3 million expense, paid through the state’s constitutional officers’ fund, would pay for mileage allowances, per diem, maintenance and general operations, according to the bill.

$625,000 of the money would go toward salaries, while another $75,000 would cover employer matching funds.

The state Senate voted 34-0 Tuesday to approve the bill, which now heads back to the Senate.

The House also voted 97-0 to approve HB 1023, which will cover funding for the House and Senate until the funding bills are approved.

Among the funding was a one percent pay raise for 28 prosecuting attorneys in the state. The salary increase for the prosecutors was left out of Amendment 3, which was passed by voters last November, State Rep. Lane Jean, R-Magnolia, said on the House floor.

The House also voted 97-0 to approve HR 1001, which sets the rules for the House; and approved by voice vote a motion by State Rep. Bill Gossage, R-Ozark, to adopt the House Accountable Reimbursement Plan.

Gossage said the plan, which is a guide to how House members are reimbursed for their work, did have some changes from prior years.

One of the changes involves changing a travel reimbursement both in and out of state from $34 to the federal General Services Administration policy of reimbursement based on the city where the legislator may go, Gossage told lawmakers.

The following bills were also introduced Wednesday:

· HB 1073 (State Rep. Justin Boyd, R-Fort Smith), Concerning the Extension of the Local Property Tax Assessment Period. Under the proposed law, if May 31 – the deadline to assess real or personal property in Arkansas – falls on a Saturday, Sunday or a postal holiday, the next day to assess without incurring a penalty shall be the following business day.

· HB 1069, HB 1070 and HB 1071 (Joint Budget Committee). HB 1069 would cover appropriations for the Crowley’s Ridge Technical Institute, HB 1070 would cover appropriations for Riverside Vocational Technical School and HB 1071 would cover appropriations for Northwest Technical Institute. All three would be for the 2015-16 fiscal year.