Category Archives: Legislature

What’s the purpose of college?

The answer to “What’s the purpose of college?” is longer than the 280 characters Twitter allows per tweet. But you can at least start a conversation in that amount of space.

Such a conversation was started last week when Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, tweeted a picture of a University of Arkansas at Little Rock billboard featuring a dance major. He commented that higher education doesn’t need extra funding if this is how it would be spent. Instead of dance, the university should be encouraging computer science degrees and math teachers, he wrote.

The tweet drew a response from Savvy Shields. If you don’t recognize her name, you certainly recognize the title: Miss America 2017, and before that, Miss Arkansas. The art major disagreed, arguing that the arts can inspire people and change society. Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Berryville, tweeted in support of Hester’s position, and then there was a minor social media firestorm that since has been forgotten.

College: Job skills or life skills?

Now that the Twitter argument has slipped into the recesses of cyberspace, the question remains: “What’s the purpose of college?”

Continue reading What’s the purpose of college?

A blue wave is coming. How big, and how wet will Arkansas get?

Alabama, blue waveHistory – both the recent and not-so-recent kinds – suggests a blue wave is coming. The only questions for this column are, how big will it be, and how wet will Arkansas get?

The recent kind of history is that, since President Trump was elected, Democrats nationwide have flipped 35 state legislative seats that were occupied by Republicans. In contrast, Republicans have flipped four seats that were occupied by Democrats.

The latest occurred Tuesday in Missouri, where a 27-year-old Democrat, Mike Revis, was elected in a district outside St. Louis that Trump won by 28 points in 2016. Revis defeated a pro-life, pro-gun Republican.

Continue reading A blue wave is coming. How big, and how wet will Arkansas get?

Your pharmacist doesn’t want to see you now

If your pharmacist doesn’t look happy to see you the next time you visit, it’s probably because she’s losing money filling your prescription.

The problems are occurring with two groups of patients. The largest are those covered by Arkansas Works, which uses Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance for 285,000 low-income Arkansans. The other problem patients are the 68,100 Arkansans who purchase their health insurance through the online Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace. Like Arkansas Works, the Marketplace was created by the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

Who are the pharmacy benefit managers?

Pharmacists say that, in those plans, they aren’t being fairly reimbursed by their pharmacy benefit managers. Those PBMs act as middlemen between pharmacists and insurance companies, which in Arkansas are Blue Cross, Ambetter and QualChoice. Continue reading Your pharmacist doesn’t want to see you now

Drama in the Legislature over Arkansas Works? 3 reasons why not, this time

Arkansas Legislature, Arkansas WorksWill there be the usual drama over Arkansas Works when the Legislature meets for its fiscal session Feb. 12? Probably not so much.

Originally known as the “private option,” Arkansas Works is the Obamacare-funded program created in 2013 that purchases private health insurance for lower-income Arkansans. It’s helped a lot of people obtain insurance – currently 286,000 Arkansans. But it’s also a government health care expansion, which makes it controversial.

It’s always had the majority votes needed in the House and Senate. The challenge for supporters has been funding it. Arkansas Works is run by the Department of Human Services. All state agency appropriations require a three-fourths vote – 27 in the Senate and 75 in the House. In theory, nine senators or 26 representatives can kill Arkansas Works by refusing to fund the department. Continue reading Drama in the Legislature over Arkansas Works? 3 reasons why not, this time