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Legislators to Quiz UAMS Over Baptist PartnershipLock Icon

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Members of the Legislature’s Joint Performance Review Committee have questions about the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ contract for emergency room and orthopedic services at Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway.

The arrangement was the subject of UAMS Shakes Up Conway Hospital Rivalry, a Page 1 story in Arkansas Business last week.

The committee wants UAMS to appear on Jan. 25 and “answer questions about the nature of the contract,” said Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, who is a co-chair of the committee.

There are also questions about the taxpayer-supported teaching hospital’s relationship with Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield, he said. UAMS and Baptist Health of Little Rock are also working with Arkansas Children’s Hospital, ABCBS and Bost Inc. in a program called Arkansas Advanced Care to serve Medicaid recipients with behavioral health and developmental disability needs. That program would operate as a Provider-owned Arkansas Shared Savings Entity, but most people call it PASSE, under legislation established last year by the Arkansas General Assembly.

“We’ll be asking UAMS to give us more clarity about those kinds of participations, especially the aspect where we feel like that they’re creating unfair competitive advantages for the hospitals they’re contracting with,” Lowery said. “If it’s going to be opened up, it ought to be opened up to all entities.”

In last week’s Arkansas Business article, Conway Regional Health System’s President and CEO Matthew Troup said he thought the arrangement between UAMS and Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway was unfair competition.

“It turned UAMS from an educator into a competitor,” said Troup, of the nonprofit Conway Regional, which operates a hospital with 150 beds.

Lowery said the committee hearing also probably will allow testimony from some of the entities that have concerns about not being allowed to participate in arrangements with UAMS.

UAMS spokeswoman Leslie Taylor said on Thursday that UAMS is aware of the meeting and plans to work with the committee.

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