Arkansas Legislators Propose Alternative Healthcare Plan

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ARKANSAS (KFSM) -- A group of Arkansas legislators created an alternative to Governor Asa Hutchinson’s managed-care plan, but the governor decided that it would not be included in his call for a special session on Medicaid next week.

The proposal is called DiamondCare. Both plans are focused on generating enough savings to cover the state’s cost of Medicaid expansion.

“Up to this point the federal government has paid 100 percent of that cost, but in 2017 we have to start paying 5 percent, and then over the next few years that’ll work its way up to us paying 10 percent,” state representative Justin Boyd, said.

Boyd is one of the legislatures who helped create DiamondCare. Boyd explained how managed-care would work.

“Managed-care hires an outside company, and outside entity to intervene between the patient and the provider in order to try to provide for care coordination,” Boyd said.

Boyd said DiamondCare is different because it cuts out the middleman.

“The DiamondCare proposal uses an administrative service organization to help make sure the patient and the provider have meet where they need to in order to have that care coordinated,” Boyd said.

Boyd said a consultant has said that the managed-care plan could save the state $1.4 billion, and DiamondCare could save just over $1 billion, but he said he believes DiamondCare would allow for more quality care.

“Well yes, there is some discussion of savings, but it’s not savings that at this point in time is proven that we can hang our hat on that we can say for sure this is what’s going to happen,” Boyd said.

Boyd said even though DiamondCare is not on the governor’s call for the special session next week, they’re still hoping to propose it.

“We’re hoping between now and then that we work to develop clarity around being able to hear that, but if we’re not able to do it we’ll have to cross that bridge when we come to it,” Boyd said.

The health reform legislative task force deadlocked in a vote on March 7 between endorsing managed-care or DiamondCare.

The special session is expected to start April 6.