In 2000, recognizing the detrimental effects of uninsurance on Arkansas families in every community across the state, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI) took on the challenge of assessing the state’s health insurance status. To develop informed policy recommendations for expanding health care coverage and new health care financing strategies, ACHI formed the Arkansas Health Insurance Roundtable.
One of the Roundtable’s recommendations, endorsed by the governor, legislature and Arkansas Department of Human Services (ADHS), was a safety net program to provide small businesses the opportunity to offer an affordable, limited benefit health package for all their employees, regardless of income.
The innovative program, called ARHealthNetworks, represents one of the first true partnerships between state and federal government, private businesses, and families to make affordable health care coverage available to uninsured workers.
ARHealthNetworks' premium subsidies come from existing state and federal funds. Arkansas’s share comes from tobacco settlement funds. The federal matching funds utilize dollars allocated to Arkansas through Title XXI (SCHIP [State Children’s Health Insurance Plan] for adults with children) and Title XIX (Medicaid – for adults without children).
Authority to use federal matching funds for ARHealthNetworks is the result of a section 1115 demonstration waiver through the Health Insurance Flexibility and Accountability (HIFA) office of the U.S. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
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