Over its nearly 20-year history, ACHI’s mission has been to serve as a catalyst— an agent that provokes or accelerates significant change or action without being consumed in the process. As evidenced by the timeline in this report, ACHI’s staff have been at the forefront of the remarkable success that Arkansas has achieved in health promotion and prevention, healthcare coverage, and payment transformation. In the midst of uncertainty—and sometimes turbulence—at the federal level, we remain poised to protect gains and advance policies to improve the health of Arkansans.
In such an environment, timely access to data is critical to inform policymaking. For 14 years, the Arkansas Health Data Initiative (HDI) housed at ACHI has been the go-to source for shaping the debate. The HDI links key pieces of health data to provide a more complete picture of health status and identify opportunities for improvement and targeted allocation of limited resources. Capitalizing on our knowledge from the HDI, ACHI pursued the development of an All-Payer Claims Database (APCD) for Arkansas. The 2015 enactment of the Arkansas Healthcare Transparency Initiative Act—which named ACHI as the APCD administrator—strengthened the state’s ability to collect claims data through the APCD from public and private sources and signaled a transition to a more transparent healthcare system for consumers. The Arkansas APCD has served as a data source for task force deliberations, premium rate review, and program development for special needs populations. As the data grows more robust, the APCD will be vital to assessing and tracking health-system performance, and a valuable research tool. ACHI’s research team has expanded and is increasingly contributing to new knowledge in the health and healthcare arena. ACHI is leading the federally required waiver evaluation of Arkansas’s expansion of coverage through the Health Care Independence Program, as well as the successor program, Arkansas Works.
The scientific rigor of the ACHI evaluation approach is unprecedented, and the interim findings and complementary analyses have been the spotlight of recent national research symposia. In order to safeguard the state’s investment in healthcare coverage, we must diligently focus on upstream health risks and behaviors that result in chronic disease and preventable death. Under Healthy Active Arkansas—a 10-year initiative to encourage and enable healthier lifestyles where Arkansans live, work, and play— ACHI has mobilized a network of approximately 250 local leaders to create change in their communities. With county judges, business leaders, superintendents, and other local officials engaged, we are excited about the network’s potential. Its continued expansion and recruitment of local leaders will drive needed improvements in communities across the state. As ACHI moves into its third decade as a catalyst to improve the health of Arkansans, I am grateful for our dedicated staff and partners who share in our many successes. I am also comforted in knowing that we will continue to stand arm-in-arm as we tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities ahead.