John Parke of Paron has been hired to lead the Arkansas Department of Human Services’ new Payment Integrity Unit.
According to a DHS press release, the unit will focus on waste prevention and recoveries of misspent funds using data and industry best practices. DHS will work with the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General to correct existing policies and procedures and train DHS staff. Parke begins his job Nov. 9.
DHS Deputy Director Mark White, who oversees Medicaid and the Division of Medical Services, said Parke has experience analyzing and improving businesses’ financial and data systems.
“That’s a skill he can really leverage in Medicaid,” White said in a press release. “When we interviewed John for this position, he had a really good grasp of the opportunities this type of unit will find.”
The unit was created at the request of Gov. Asa Hutchinson. An October press release from his office said Arkansas recovers only $2.1 million, or .04 percent of total Medicaid spending. Other states have higher rates of recovery, including Florida (.17%), Georgia (.35%), and Arizona (.44%).
The issue of payment integrity is one of Hutchinson’s priorities in reforming Medicaid. It gained increased importance after The Stephen Group, a consultant group advising legislators on health care reform, found that 42,891 Arkansas Medicaid and private option recipients had best addresses that were out of state, according to a LexisNexis search. The private option is the program purchasing private insurance for lower-income Arkansans using federal dollars.
DHS has since said that many of those recipients had been removed from the program between the time the information was supplied to The Stephen Group and Oct. 7, when The Stephen Group made its report.
However, the issue brought to attention concerns about DHS’ ability to ensure dollars are properly spent. DHS verifies continued eligibility once a year as required by federal law. The Stephen Group recommended eligibility be monitored in real time.