23 Feb

ARCOM partners with Community Health Centers of Arkansas

A partnership that is expected to increase access to health care in underserved areas of Arkansas by 2021 was announced Thursday.

The Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Smith and the Community Health Centers of Arkansas have jointly announced a partnership agreement for clinical rotations sites for fourth-year medical students and primary care-based residency opportunities for graduates. The mecical school’s inaugural class began in August.

The medical college also announced this month it will have education partnerships with Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center in Poteau beginning in 2019 and CHI St. Vincent in Hot Springs in 2020.

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22 Feb

Healthy Connections Nominated for Arkansas Business Non Profit of the Year

30th Annual Arkansas Business Business of the Year Award

Since 1988, Arkansas Business has honored the state’s top executives, small businesses and nonprofits with the annual Arkansas Business of the Year Awards. Readers make nominations and an independent panel of judges selects the winners.

The winners will be announced at a special banquet Thursday at the Statehouse Convention Center inside the Wally Allen Ballroom. The reception begins at 6 p.m. with dinner starting at 7 p.m.

Congratulations to Healthy Connections for being nominated in the non profit category.

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14 Feb

Arkansan at rally on Health Centers

WASHINGTON — An Arkansas community health advocate spoke at a rally on Capitol Hill last week, urging congressional support for community health centers.

Brigitte McDonald, a Corning resident and CEO of 1st Choice Healthcare, was joined by other advocates from across the country.

Congress got the message. Lawmakers included funding for community health centers in their two-year budget agreement, which was signed into law Friday by President Donald Trump.

McDonald met with members of the Arkansas congressional delegation earlier in the week and described them as “very supportive.”

Failure of Congress to approve ongoing funding for the centers had left the health care providers and their patients in limbo.

“Since we’ve had the four continuing resolutions, most of the health centers in Arkansas have either implemented a hiring freeze or [are] looking at that, losing staff because of the uncertainty. It’s definitely hard to recruit staff knowing that the funding cliff is there,” she said.

Republican U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro and French Hill of Little Rock had already signed a Feb. 2 letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., highlighting the importance of providing “sustainable and reliable funding” for the centers.


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07 Feb

Health clinics across Arkansas in jeopardy of closing their doors

If congress doesn’t agree upon a new federal budget, we could see 120 health care facilities in the natural state close their doors.

Executive Director of Mid Delta Health Systems Al Sliger, couldn’t imagine doing anything else for a living.

“When you get involved in it, and when you’re doing it, very few people leave,” Sliger said.

But he and his colleagues say nonprofit health care clinics like his in clarendon, Arkansas are in jeopardy, because right now, there’s no guarantee the thousands of facilities in the u-s, will get federal funding.

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07 Feb

Health Clinics Waiting for Congress to Renew Funding

February 7, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Thousands of uninsured Arkansans are currently in limbo, waiting to see if Congress approves funding for community health centers.

Lawmakers face a Thursday deadline to approve a new budget to avoid another shutdown of the federal government.

The Federally Qualified Health Centers program was not renewed in October, and unless Congress acts, money for clinics will run out on April 1.

LaShannon Spencer, CEO of Community Health Center of Arkansas, was in Washington this week, lobbying lawmakers for funding.

“When you start thinking about the impact of the funding in the future and the patients, it’s critical because of potential hiring freezes, layoffs, staff, reducing hours, or actually closing, and a delay in expansion of health centers,” she states.

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11 Jan

New fed guidance aligns with Arkansas Works waiver; DHS sees quick approval

The Trump administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has sent a guidance to state Medicaid directors that aligns with part of Arkansas’ request for a waiver for its Arkansas Works program.

Amy Webb, Arkansas Department of Human Services spokesman, said the department received the letter, dated Jan. 11, that morning. It is not an official approval but does offer guidance.

“We are pleased that the administration has put out this guidance saying it will give states more flexibility to do the kind of reforms we have planned in Arkansas,” she said. “We expect official approval of our waiver request soon and are prepared to implement the changes we’ve requested.”

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s administration asked for the waiver from the Trump administration as part of its ongoing efforts to administer Arkansas Works, the program that uses federal Obamacare dollars to purchase private health insurance for lower-income Arkansans.

The letter, whose existence was reported by Fox News, says CMS will “support state efforts to test incentives that make participation in work or other community engagement a requirement for continued Medicaid eligibility.”

It acknowledges that the agency is shifting its stance from one under the Obama administration that did not require work or community engagement. It says applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

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05 Jan

Trump Plans to OK Arkansas’ Medicaid Work Requirement

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — – (via KARK) — After months of waiting, some Arkansas Medicaid recipients could soon have to work for their coverage.

President Trump plans to allow states to add work requirements to their Medicaid programs for the first time.

His administration announced Friday it is preparing to release the guidelines.

The Natural State is only one of a handful that applied for this specific waiver back in the summer.

Medicaid recipients under 50 years old would be required to work, participate in job training or volunteer. There are some exemptions, including recipients who are disabled or caring for dependent children.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has been fighting for this.

He announced Thursday the state’s work referral requirement under Arkansas Works resulted in more than 16,000 people accessing workforce services, with 4,000 of those getting new jobs.

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12 Dec

Future of Franklin: Nonprofit to Transform Elementary School into Health Care Complex

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Many believe the closure of Franklin Elementary hurt their Little Rock neighborhood, but a nonprofit plans to use the empty building to heal it.

Community Health Centers of Arkansas (CHCA) bought the school to transform it into a health care complex.

“This particular model that we’ve created does not exist here, where everything is housed up under one,” said CEO LaShannon Spencer.

Franklin was one of four schools the Little Rock School District shut down at the end of the last school year to cut operating expenses.

In fall 2018, the four-wing building will open as a one-stop shop for primary, dental and vision care.

Spencer said neighborhood organizations like Forever Care could house its claims and call center there, while colleges and universities could offer training and certification opportunities.

“We’re looking at public-private partnerships to help address and eliminate health disparities in Franklin but also the surrounding communities,” she said. “There are facilities not too far from here that do offer health care services free of charge or on a sliding scale, but we’re truly looking to build upon that and to foster those collaborative relationships.”

Spencer also plans to create a community advisory board.

“Where community members will truly have a say in what goes on here within the facility,” she said. “This building, it’s the anchor of the community.”

That’s why CHCA doesn’t plan to change much. The basketball courts, a historical bench, even the Franklin Elementary crest will stay.

“It’s been here for a very, very long time,” said Jessie Smith. “I did raise my children here. I lived here for 32 years.”

Smith was a substitute teacher and bus driver for the school. She hoped her grandchildren would go there.

“I just hate to see that that school is closed down,” she said. “That kind of hurt the community.”

But upon hearing it would become a health care complex, Smith’s spirits lifted, believing that kind of change could do her old neighborhood good.

“It progresses when you put something in action for the progression,” she said.

CHCA will move its headquarters to the new site in the spring.


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05 Dec

Health Providers Fight Domestic Violence with Pilot Program

Health Care Providers Fight Domestic Violence with Pilot Program

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28 Nov

Facing “hard decisions” health centers plead for restored funding

The Hill – 

Community health centers are scrambling to make contingency plans as they anxiously wait to see if Congress will renew billions of dollars in federal funding that expired on Sept. 30.

Often situated in medically underserved areas, the health centers provide care to some 26 million of the nation’s most vulnerable people. They’re required to take any patient who seeks care, regardless of whether they can pay.

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