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Joe Thompson

Director and Arkansas Surgeon General

Arkansas Center for Health Improvement

Age: 52

Joe Thompson

In 2007, Dr. Joe Thompson was named Arkansas’ first surgeon general, a position created by the state Legislature that year. As surgeon general, Thompson shapes policies to improve the health of Arkansans and serves as a cabinet-level adviser to the governor. Thompson also is the director of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, a nonpartisan, independent health policy center that strives to improve the health of Arkansans. He worked with Gov. Mike Beebe, Arkansas’ legislative leaders and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to create an alternative to Medicaid expansion under the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act. The “private option” allowed Arkansas to use federal Medicaid money to buy private insurance for low-income Arkansans.