The Top 10 Arkansas Business Stories of 2012: Making History

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 12:00 am  

Smith rarely seemed to be in control of the team as the Razorbacks finished 4-8. His performances in press conferences were bizarre and invited national ridicule.

Making matters worse for Arkansas was a $40 million bankruptcy filing by Smith during the season. Failed real estate deals in Kentucky caught up with the interim coach, who insisted the financial troubles weren’t impacting the product on the field.

Long and the UA were left defending not only the decision to hire Smith, but their willingness to defer more than 70 percent of his salary until after he finished coaching the team. Creditors argued at a bankruptcy hearing during the season that Smith was trying to hide money that should be theirs.

Injuries, losses and unfavorable headlines piled up by the week.

There were few highlights to 2012 when it came to Razorback football. Long did manage to lure Bret Bielema from Wisconsin as head coach. It was a hire that suggested the program might one day return to the success enjoyed in Petrino’s final two seasons.

But that’s in the future. In the meantime, no Razorback-watcher is going to forget 2012.

2. Health Care Industry in Transition

As U.S. House Speaker John Boehner famously noted after the re-election of President Barack Obama, “Obamacare is the law of the land.” Now, a Republican-dominated Arkansas Legislature must deal with that fact.

The president’s re-election coupled with the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling that upheld most of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act puts much of the burden of implementing the new health care system on the state’s General Assembly.

Obamacare, approved in 2010, seeks to extend health insurance to about 30 million Americans who don’t currently have coverage. Many in the middle class are to get government subsidies to help them buy private insurance. Low-income Americans would be added to Medicaid, but the Supreme Court allows states to choose whether they want to expand their Medicaid programs. That has been something Arkansas Republican lawmakers have been reluctant to do, while Gov. Mike Beebe and his fellow Arkansas Democrats have supported expansion.

In January, it will be up to the Legislature to decide whether Arkansas will expand Medicaid to about 250,000 additional low-income Arkansans, which would bring an estimated $800 million more federal dollars into the state every year.

The effects of the implementation of Obamacare, which includes cost-containment and other measures designed to encourage efficiency, trickle down into almost every aspect of health care in Arkansas. Health care providers — from nursing homes to hospitals to individual physicians — have been trying to figure out how best to deal with those effects.



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