Arkansas Eliminates Home Care Program Serving 13,000 People

Arkansas health officials announced Monday a plan to transition a home health care program serving tens of thousands of people to a private-sector provider due to significant financial constraints.

Arkansas Department of Health Director Nathaniel Smith said Monday the state would begin phasing out its In-Home Services program for financial reasons, a process he said will take at least six months. The department intends to market the program to private providers capable of managing the entirety of the operation, according to a news release.

Smith cites a steady decline in patients, employees, and revenue as cause for the move. Over the last five years, the program saw a 28% decrease in participants, an 18% drop in revenues, and a 19% fall in workers. Smith also said competition from the private sector contributed to the agency’s decision.

“The department provides high quality health care services to our patients, and this decision was not taken lightly,” Smith said in a news release. “However, the department must act responsibly in addressing the sustainability of continuing to operate the program with the challenges that we currently face.”

Providing at-home health care and hospice, among other services, the program aids about 13,000 people. Smith said the department plans to assist patients to streamline their care through the transition.

Still, the move could prove detrimental for the 2,300 employees and contractors working on the program, as their jobs are only guaranteed until the private sector providers takes over and there is no definite end date for the program in sight.

“Their jobs are going to be there until that private sector transition occurs, and then it’s up to the private sector on whether they keep them as employees,” ADH spokeswoman Kerry Krell told The Associated Press.

Written by Kourtney Liepelt