Arkansas health care providers who work with Medicaid patients will want to save the date of Dec. 7 to attend the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care’s (AFMC) annual Medicaid Educational Conference. It will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Embassy Suites Little Rock.

This free conference is a great opportunity for providers to get the latest information on Medicaid policy and updates on programs they will be asked to adopt or work with during the next year. These conferences can make a positive difference in how providers practice medicine and maximize reimbursements.

With more than a quarter of the state’s population – about 710,000 Arkansans, 405,000 of whom are children – receiving some type of assistance through the Medicaid program, it’s important for health care providers and clinic staff to stay current on best practices, and program and financial changes.

AFMC contracts with the Arkansas Medicaid program to provide a wide array of health care improvement services for patients as well as health care providers, practices, hospitals and long-term care facilities. The annual Medicaid Educational Conference is one of the most popular ways we meet the educational part of our mission.

This year’s conference agenda includes the latest information on the Arkansas Payment Improvement Initiative (APII), Arkansas’ unique alternative payment project. The update covers new episodes of care, upcoming changes and new metrics for patient-centered medical home (PCMH) participants.

AFMC’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Chad Rodgers will discuss a unique program that is informing incoming freshmen at the state’s public universities about long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). This has the potential to dramatically reduce unintended pregnancies among 18- and 19-year olds – where the rates are highest. Arkansas’ teen pregnancy rate is the highest in the nation.

Attendees will receive information on making a smooth transition to the Arkansas Department of Human Services’ new Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS). MMIS will support Medicaid business functions, and maintain information such as provider enrollment, claims processing and prior authorization.

Additional funding is now available to expand the autism waiver program. Arkansas Medicaid has recently begun approving Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for children with autism whose primary physician prescribes it through Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT).

Attendees will also learn about program changes that will improve Medicaid beneficiaries’ access to health care including non-emergency transportation, AFMC’s expanded service center/call center and educational opportunities for those new to Medicaid.

Mary Gupton will explain how to recruit patients with diabetes to the highly successful diabetes education program, DEEP. This program is changing the lives of and care plans for diabetics.

Two types of special awards will be presented at this year’s conference.

This is the 10th year that the Inpatient Quality Incentive (IQI) awards will be presented to Arkansas hospitals. The IQI program identifies and rewards hospitals that provide a higher level of care to Medicaid beneficiaries and reduces Medicaid costs. Since the IQI program’s inception in 2007, Arkansas Medicaid has awarded more than $37 million to hospitals that have successfully improved their care for Medicaid’s clinical priorities. IQI reflects a growing movement toward rewarding hospitals for quality and evidence-based care.

Another group of awards will be presented to practices who have earned shared savings through the patient-centered medical home project. To participate, practices must meet program activity requirements, quality measures, and financial targets by either providing more efficient care or managing cost growth.

Health care providers are encouraged to join us, starting at 7:30 a.m. for a continental breakfast with exhibitors. Lunch will be at noon and we’ll conclude with door prizes at 4 p.m. In between, a strong line-up of speakers will share essential information that practices need to stay current.