Arkansas Works will end on December 31, and today I’d like to talk about the program that will replace it.
We call the new program Arkansas Health and Opportunity for Me, also known as ARHOME. Department of Human Services Secretary Cindy Gillespie’s team created a health care insurance program that does more than pay for medical care.
Historically, the role of health insurance companies has been to pay for doctor visits and protect against unforeseen expenses. ARHOME adds a third dimension to the role of health insurance plans – to assist their members to become healthy and to stay healthy.
The 93rd General Assembly voted to authorize this new waiver program, but legislators made it clear they wanted the insurance plan to accomplish more than provide access to medical care. They wanted to see a payoff of good health for the state’s investment in the health care system.
One way ARHOME aims to accomplish that is with three types of community bridge organizations, called Life360 HOMEs. One of the bridges, which will be based in community hospitals, will serve women with high-risk pregnancies. This maternal health initiative will educate women in their homes about health care during pregnancy – things to do and things to avoid so they have the best pregnancy possible, and so that their children are born healthy.
The second bridge will be based in rural hospitals and serve those with behavioral and mental health needs. The program will offer crisis intervention or acute care.
The third new initiative is for young adults who are veterans, and those who grew up in foster care or have been released from the juvenile justice or adult correctional systems. ARHOME will assist these clients in the transition to adult life in their community.
Arkansans need access to quality health care, but they also need encouragement to use the services and to choose a lifestyle that results in good health.
ARHOME will pay rural hospitals to recruit and train coaches to work one-on-one with members. It will support rural hospitals that add crisis mental health to the care they offer. Under ARHOME, hospitals won’t wait for patients to show up. The coaches and peer specialists will meet them where they are.
We have opened the ARHOME initiative for public comment through mid-July. Then we will submit our request to the Biden administration for approval to waive certain federal Medicaid regulations so that we can tailor the program to Arkansas. I will be traveling to our nation’s capitol to make our case to the White House in person.
The legislature did its part and approved the proposed program. Now we must do ours and earn approval from the federal government. Then we will take on the challenge of ARHOME to achieve good health through good health insurance.