Tag Archives: Arkansas

Health provider in scandals loses first 3 state contracts

Source: Doug Thompson, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, July 7, 2018

The state began closing down the first three of its 16 contracts with Preferred Family Healthcare on Friday, after a year and a half of scandals that include convictions of four former lawmakers on corruption charges. Preferred Family is a nonprofit behavioral health and substance abuse treatment company. It has 47 locations in Arkansas. The Springfield, Mo., company has $28 million in contracts with the state to provide services ranging from therapy and counseling for foster children to court-ordered drug and alcohol addiction treatment and professional consulting to the state Department of Human Services. In addition, the company received more than $33 million a year through the state Medicaid program. Preferred Family operates in five states. … A U.S. Department of Justice investigation has obtained three guilty pleas and one jury conviction against former Arkansas lawmakers in a multimillion-dollar corruption scheme that started at least as early as 2010. … The state was assured by Preferred Family it had dismissed the company executives involved since the first guilty plea Jan. 4, 2017. Then former Preferred Family executive Robin Raveendran was charged last week, accused of filing $2.3 million in improper Medicaid claims for mental health services. Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the state’s Office of Medicaid Inspector General announced the state would cancel contracts with the company and suspend Medicaid payments to it. …

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Troubled Missouri nonprofit settles wage lawsuit amid federal probe of bribery, kickback scheme
Source: Wesley Brown, Talk Business & Politics, July 1, 2018

During the period when a Missouri healthcare nonprofit was doling out millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to Arkansas lawmakers, public officials and its own well-paid executive team, the troubled healthcare group was fleecing hundreds of lowly paid hourly workers out of overtime pay, according to allegations in a recent federal lawsuit. In early April, Springfield, Mo.-based Preferred Family Healthcare (PFH) agreed upon a tentative settlement with former employee Frances Smith over allegations that PFH and its handful of Arkansas-based affiliates failed to pay the former healthcare worker and other agency employees overtime compensation for working over 40 hours per week, according to pleadings with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. …

Arkansas seeks bids for privatization of juvenile centers

Source: Tafi Mukunyadzi, Associated Press, August 14, 2017
 
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Monday that the state will seek bids from the private sector to take over operations of seven juvenile detention centers in Arkansas.  Hutchinson said the Arkansas Department of Human Services recommended soliciting a private operator, and that bids were likely to go out in December. The winning bid is expected to be announced in March, and the facilities would be taken over in July, the governor said. …

Does Choice Matter for School Choice? An Instrumental Variables Analysis of the Effect of Choice on Parental Satisfaction in Charter Schools

Source: Corey A. DeAngelis, University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform Working Paper, February 3, 2017

Abstract:
I employ ordered probit regression, and a new instrumental variable, to compare the fall 2015 parental satisfaction survey results of open-enrollment charters to district-conversion charters. The results indicate that choice status in Arkansas charter schools is significantly beneficial to parental-satisfaction. In particular, after controlling for student and parent-level characteristics, parents with children in open-enrollment charters had between a 17-percentage point and 32-percentage point higher likelihood of grading their current school as an A or responding as Highly Satisfied in six of the quality categories: Overall, Teacher, Discipline, Learning, Safety and Parental-Involvement. Four of the relationships remain large and statistically-significant in the instrumental variables analysis. I find no evidence that parents in either choice setting rate the quality of schools similar to the experts at the Arkansas Department of Education. Finally, I do not find any significant differences for any of the parental-satisfaction categories between oversubscribed and non-oversubscribed schools.

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Republican States Look to Customize Medicaid Expansion, Not Eliminate It

Source: Christine Vestal, Stateline, January 23, 2017

… As Congress prepares to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, 14 other states with GOP governors that opted to expand Medicaid under the law may face the same reality Bevin and Hutchinson did: Taking health insurance away from hundreds of thousands of people is a complicated and risky proposition. Medicaid spending for all states was about $532 billion in 2015, with about 63 percent funded by the federal government and the rest by states. In expanding Medicaid under the ACA, Republicans in expansion states chose economics over politics, even though it meant cooperating with a law that nearly all conservatives abhor. That calculus won’t change with the transition in Washington, according to Matt Salo, who heads the National Association of Medicaid Directors.

… In upcoming legislative sessions, many GOP-dominated states are likely to preserve expansion while adding so-called personal responsibility policies that have been proposed in Kentucky and adopted in Arkansas and five other states. Those policies include monthly premiums, copays and work requirements for low-income beneficiaries. … Under the Obama administration, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Montana and New Hampshire received federal approval to expand their low-income health care programs for adults under different rules than traditional Medicaid. Arkansas, with its so-called private option, was the first state to receive federal approval for an alternative expansion plan in 2013. Instead of enrolling newly eligible adults in its traditional Medicaid plan, which serves primarily children, pregnant women and the elderly and disabled, the plan for low-income adults substituted private insurance for traditional Medicaid. A bipartisan collaboration between former Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe and the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature, the plan has managed to come in under budgeted costs while covering far more people than originally projected, said Amy Webb, a spokeswoman for the state’s human services agency. After it was approved, Iowa and New Hampshire proposed similar plans. … If the Medicaid expansion remains intact, Kentucky could be the first state to get approval for an alternative plan under the Trump administration. With enough latitude, even holdouts such as Florida, Texas and Virginia might be persuaded to accept federal money to cover low-income adults.

Kindred wins bid to privatize Arkansas home health business

Source: Dave Barkholz, Modern Healthcare, June 21, 2016

Kindred Healthcare has agreed to purchase the State of Arkansas’ home health operations in a privatization move that would put the company’s facilities in 70 counties across the state, compared with the four it currently covers. The investor-owned giant was the winning bidder for the Arkansas Department of Health’s in-home healthcare operations, the two sides announced Monday. Kindred agreed to pay $39 million for the business. As part of the privatization, Kindred agreed to retain all employees and serve all current patients upon consent. … In the transaction, Kindred is buying the agency’s 74 home health locations serving 69 counties, seven offices providing hospice services in 42 counties and its personal care services business that assists patients with their daily living. Today, Louisville, Ky.-based Kindred has six offices providing home health and hospice in four of the state’s counties. Altogether, the company will have a presence in 70 of Arkansas’ 75 counties after the deal closes. …

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State sells its in-home care setup to firm; services go to $39M bidder
Source: Chris Bahn & Michael Wickline, Arkansas Online, June 21, 2016

Kindred Healthcare Inc. is under contract to purchase the Arkansas Department of Health’s in-home health care services for $39 million, the company and state announced Monday. … After figuring costs associated with the sale and transition, including retention bonuses for about 1,880 employees and contract workers, Hutchinson said, the state will net about $24 million from the transaction. Hutchinson said the state was losing money providing in-home health services and called the decision to sell “a unique solution” that allowed the state to preserve the jobs of about 280 state employees and an additional 1,600 contract employees for up to a year. The arrangement also allows for 3,380 patients to continue coverage for at least a year. Kindred will acquire the Department of Health’s 74 home health locations providing services in 69 counties, seven offices providing hospice services in 42 counties and a personal-care services business. …

The Prison Visit That Cost My Family $2,370

Source: Eli Hager & Rui Kaneya, The Marshall Project, April 12, 2016

After decades of tough-on-crime policies, Hawaii is one of four states that solve their prison crowding problem by shipping inmates out of state, usually to facilities run by for-profit companies such as Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO Group. California prisoners go to Arizona and to the Mississippi Delta; Vermont prisoners go to a remote corner of Michigan; and Arkansas prisoners go to Texas. The U.S. Virgin Islands also sends its prisoners away, to Florida, Arizona and Virginia. … In all, more than 7,200 state prisoners across the nation are housed this way. That number may rise if Washington state follows through on a contract to send its overflow inmates to a GEO facility in Michigan or if North Dakota sends inmates to a CCA facility in Colorado, which the corrections director there has said is a possibility within the next few months. … Hawaii first began sending prisoners en masse to mainland prisons in 1995, when it secured beds in a privately run Texas facility. Over the years, Hawaii expanded the practice, shipping thousands of prisoners to 14 facilities across eight states.Today, under a $30-million-a-year contract with CCA, the state sends all its overflow prisoners to Saguaro, which was opened just for Hawaii in 2007 …

Hawaii pays CCA about $70 a day to house each inmate at Saguaro, compared with an average of $140 a day for an inmate at any of the four prisons back home. In Vermont, an out-of-state prison bed costs about $62 per day; in-state, the price tag is $162. For the U.S. Virgin islands, the choice is between as little as $67 on the mainland, versus $150 on the islands. (California’s complicated budget picture makes it more difficult to make a similar comparison.) … CCA is paid up to about $185 million per year by California and Hawaii for out-of-state space, and GEO gets as much as about $15 million a year from Vermont to house prisoners in Michigan. Arkansas spends up to $4.75 million a year for LaSalle Southwest Corrections to operate the jail in Bowie County, Texas, where its overflow inmates are kept.

Nettleton schools to outsource jobs next school year

Source: Seth Stephenson, KSLA, April 4, 2016

The Nettleton School District recently announced they will outsource about nine jobs to a company in Jonesboro beginning school year of 2017. Superintendent James Dunivan said Monday that these jobs include speech therapists employed by the school and the supervisor of the special education department. … Dunivan said they will soon start taking bids from various licensed speech therapy companies in Jonesboro. He hopes some of those companies will hire some of the speech therapists who will no longer be employed by the school at the end of the school year. … Dunivan said they currently have over 300 students who need speech therapy. He said outsourcing these positions are not uncommon for schools. Dunivan explained because of Jonesboro’s size, they are able to easily hire another company to perform these services for them.

Arkansas Legislators Concerned About Privatizing Home Health Care

Source: Valerie Van Booven, Home Care Daily, March 15, 2016

This move has some legislators worried that some services may no longer be available for those who need it, especially elderly and disabled who reside in rural areas of the state. The Department of Health sent out notice to more than 500 state employees and 1,800 contract workers who have some involvement in the in home care aspect of the state to inform them that this sale would occur sometime in the summer of 2016. Essentially, according to Department of Health Director Nathanial Smith, the program that’s currently in place is no longer sustainable. … Not all are happy with this decision, like Sen. Larry Teague, D-Nashville, who states that the state program is the only one in certain areas that provides these types of services and is concerned that those who rely on this level of care might not receive it when the entire program is privatized. …

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In-home care in ’16 to go private
Source: Shea Stewart, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, August 11, 2015

The Arkansas Department of Health on Monday alerted about 500 state employees and 1,800 contract workers that the department’s in-home services program will move to a private-sector provider sometime in 2016. The notification came via a letter from Dr. Nathaniel Smith, department director. The program, started in 1981, offers hospice, home health care, personal care and other services to about 13,000 patients … Department officials don’t expect a disruption in services while transferring the program from the state to one or more private vendors, Smith said in an interview Monday. The transition is expected to take about six months.

Arkansas ending out home health program, affecting more than 2,300 workers and contractors
Source: Andrew DeMillo, Associated Press, August 10, 2015

Arkansas health officials announced Monday that the state is ending a home health care program that serves thousands of people, a move that could leave 2,300 workers and contractors seeking new jobs. … About 13,000 people are served by the program, which provides in-home services such as health care and hospice. Smith said in the letter that the department would help those served by the program move to a private provider over the next several months. About 500 Health Department employees work on the program, along with another 1,800 who contract with the state. A spokeswoman for the department said the agency didn’t have a definite end date for the program, and Smith wrote the process would take at least six months. Smith said the state would assist workers as they try to find jobs with a private provider or elsewhere in state government.

Law Enforcement Investigations and Actions Regarding For-Profit Colleges

Source: David Halperin, Republic Report, Updated October 9, 2015

This is a list of pending and recent significant federal and state law enforcement investigations of, and actions against, for-profit colleges. It also includes some major investigations and disciplinary actions by the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Defense.  It does not include investigations or disciplinary actions by state education oversight boards.  It also does not include lawsuits prosecuted only by private parties — students, staff, etc. To date, 37 state attorneys general are participating in a joint working group examining for-profit colleges, according to the office of Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. Many of those are actively investigating specific for-profit colleges in their states.

Fort Smith School Board schedules vote on charter

Source: Dave Hughes, Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, September 17, 2015

The School Board agreed Monday to vote at its Sept. 28 meeting on whether to support the opening of a charter school in the city. The board questioned Trish Flanagan, founder of the proposed Future School, about plans for the open-enrollment school and how it could affect the School District. … Board members expressed concerns about the $975,000 in money the district would lose if 150 of its students went to the Future School. The state pays schools $6,500 per student per year. Board President Deanie Mehl said the School District is unable to give raises to its teachers this school year but has managed to meet its expenses for about 30 years without a property tax increase. …