Dan Rahn: Expanding Medicaid Critical for UAMS

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 12:00 am  

Through the first six months of the current fiscal year, UAMS’ hospital is “fundamentally breaking even,” Rahn said. He declined to say what the numbers were because he hasn’t yet presented them to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.

“But breaking even is not good enough,” he said. “We’re kind of operating on the edge.”

He said UAMS needs profits from the hospital to support its mission of improving health and health care in the state.

Rahn is banking on a number of cost-saving moves and increases in revenue that will help the UAMS campus, including forming a partnership with St. Vincent Health System that could save both systems money.

Under national health care reform, hospitals and doctors will have to demonstrate lower costs while providing high-quality care, which will be key metrics in governmental and commercial reimbursements.

“We’re really beginning the process here that’s the first real fundamental redesign of health care since Medicare and Medicaid came into existence 46 years ago,” Rahn said.

Health Care Reform

One of the top issues Rahn is supporting is the expansion of Medicaid for the working poor, which will add about 250,000 Arkansans to the joint federal-state program.

Approving the expansion will require a 75 percent supermajority vote in both the Arkansas House and Senate.

“We’ve got to get everybody into the [insurance] system,” Rahn said. “We have an unsustainable volume of uninsured care.”

House Public Health Committee Chairman Rep. John Burris, R-Harrison, told Arkansas Business last week many unanswered questions remain surrounding Medicaid expansion, including what kind of latitude the state will have in implementing the expansion.

“Right now it doesn’t look like we’ve got a lot of flexibility, and I think that makes the decision more difficult,” Burris said.



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