Wal-Mart to join Arkansas health care program

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 10, 2013 at 2:59 pm •  Published: January 10, 2013
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State officials say Wal-Mart's participation is important in luring other self-insured companies to take part.

"Wal-Mart's participation is very important because they represent that whole business model, that segment of payers that heretofore had not been included," Beebe said.

The state began rolling out the payment reforms in July, focusing on five treatment areas, and plans to add five more to the program in April. The state partnered with Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and QualChoice of Arkansas on the initiative. Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield administers Wal-Mart's health insurance claims.

State Surgeon General Joe Thompson the tracking system would bring together efforts that Medicaid and the private insurers were already undertaking separately to measure the progress of the payment changes.

"The tracking initiative that Wal-Mart will support will allow us to put all three of those together so there is a statewide report for both the public and the private sector in one place that integrates the information from the participating carriers and Medicaid," Thompson said.

The system will allow the state to issue reports measuring the financial success of the payment initiative as well as progress on health indicators such as re-admissions, Thompson said.

The Department of Human Services projected that the state's Medicaid program would save $15 million next year because of the changes to the way the program pays for services. The state has also asked the federal government for permission to add Medicare to the health care initiative.

Arkansas is undertaking the health payment changes as it faces a shortfall in the state's Medicaid program. DHS has proposed cuts to several programs, including some nursing home care, to address the shortfall in the upcoming budget.

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Andrew DeMillo can be reached at www.twitter.com/ademillo