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DHS, AID & DWS Announce Health Care Landscape Study to Strengthen Health Care Coverage in Arkansas


Amy Webb
Chief Communications & Community Engagement Officer
501-682-8946 desk
501-837-8199 mobile


DHS, AID & DWS Announce Health Care Landscape Study to Strengthen Health Care Coverage in Arkansas

The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), the Arkansas Insurance Department (AID) and the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (DWS) are conducting a comprehensive assessment of the state’s overall health care coverage landscape, building on a requirement in the Arkansas Works law that the agencies analyze the small business insurance market in Arkansas and make recommendations on how the Legislature can strengthen that market. The assessment will include Medicaid, and both the small and large group private insurance markets in Arkansas. We are being assisted in conducting this research by Leavitt Partners, LLC in partnership with Health Management Associates.

The first step of the assessment will be electronic surveys sent out next week to about 200 small business officials who make decisions about health benefits and one to about 2,000 insured and uninsured adults in Arkansas. 
“We recognized that the small group market cannot be looked at in isolation since individuals working for small businesses may be insured either through the individual insurance market or receiving health coverage through Medicaid. Therefore, Commissioner Kerr and I have worked closely together to design a study that looks more comprehensively at the landscape of health care coverage in this state, in order to develop options to strengthen not only the small group market but also to continue strengthening the individual market while ensuring the long-term sustainability of Medicaid for those who truly need government assistance,” said DHS Director Cindy Gillespie.

"Employer-related health insurance is the foundation for Arkansas Works, and this joint effort between AID and DHS to strengthen the state’s health insurance market is something that I am proud to participate in as it will directly benefit Arkansas policyholders and businesses,” said AID Commissioner Allen Kerr.

What is the goal of the assessment? 
The assessment will generate a point-in-time look at health care coverage in the state, which will help identify key issues impacting public and private health insurance. The goal is to develop implementable policy options that address the issues identified during the research and data gathering phases of the assessment. 

What and who will be included in the assessment? 
The assessment will include all aspects of the health care coverage system in Arkansas. Of particular interest are coverage issues related to the uninsured, the individual market, small and large group insurance, Medicaid, and other government health care coverage programs. The assessment will cover all parts of the state.

The assessment will use data from a variety of sources, including publicly available data, surveys, and focus groups. It also will leverage findings from interviews and workgroups held with key stakeholders such as legislators, the Department of Finance and Administration, insurance companies, health systems, hospitals, provider groups, the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, employers, brokers and key advocates.

What is the purpose of the surveys and the focus groups?
To fully understand the perspectives of consumers and employers, their motivations, the challenges they face, and the changes they would like to see for the future, we will conduct a series of surveys and focus groups. These will be especially useful for understanding how and why employers make decisions to offer or not offer coverage, and how and why consumers make decisions to purchase or not purchase coverage. Online surveys will be sent to employers and consumers via email. Focus groups will be held in-person with small group employers (comprised of about 8-10 participants each).

Who is conducting the assessment? 
We are being assisted in conducting this research by Leavitt Partners, LLC in partnership with Health Management Associates. Leavitt Partners is a health care intelligence firm that has worked with many states to complete large scale evaluations. Under our guidance, Leavitt Partners will conduct the necessary surveys, focus groups and stakeholder outreach, and complete the appropriate research. 

When will the assessment be completed?
The evaluation will be in process throughout the latter part of this year. It is expected that all research activities related to the point-in-time report will wrap up by the end of this year, at which time DHS, AID, and DWS will begin working with stakeholders to delve into the policy options identified to potentially strengthen the small group and individual markets, in order to develop specific recommendations for the Governor and Arkansas Legislature to consider. It is expected that the recommendations will be completed no later than March 2018.


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