Ark. Business: Arkansas Works, OBU President, childhood obesity

Legislators are set to vote a final time on changes to Arkansas hybrid Medicaid expansion, also known as the private option. --THV11.com 04/08/16

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Legislators are set to vote a final time on changes to Arkansas hybrid Medicaid expansion, also known as the private option.

The House and Senate took its first votes on Gov. Asa Hutchinson's "Arkansas Works" bill Thursday, which extends and adds new provisions to the program that provides health insurance to more than 250,000 Arkansans. The House approved the legislation 70 to 30, and the Senate okayed it by a vote of 25 to 10.

In a statement, Hutchinson said he was pleased by what he called the strength of the vote count and that the results exceeded his expectations. That vote count will be more important during next week's fiscal session, when votes to reauthorize funding for the program require larger, three-fourths majorities in both houses of the Legislature.

After a nine-month search, Ouachita Baptist University of Arkadelphia has a new president. Trustees unanimously elected Ben R. Sells as the private university's 16th president.

Sells, who will officially will take over the presidency on June 1, replaces Rex Horne, who left OBU last year to become president of Arkansas' Independent Colleges and Universities. Sells most recently served as a vice president at Taylor University in Upland, Ind.

This is the first time in more than 60 years that a newly elected Ouachita president has not had previous ties to the university as an alumnus, staff member, or trustee.

And finally, scientists at the Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute and the Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center will use a $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study how development during infancy affects childhood obesity.

The five-year study will examine body fat distribution in infants and children during a phase of rapid growth before they reach age two.

Nearly a quarter of U.S. children between two and five years old are overweight, and another 11 percent are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The grant is funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.


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