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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Many Americans are anxiously awaiting a decision by the Supreme Court on health care reform, which is expected later this week.The court is expected to decide whether the reform law's requirement that individuals purchase health insurance is constitutional.

So what does thatmean forArkansans?Arkansas' Surgeon General Dr. Joe Thompsonsat down with THV's Alyse Eady to talk about the upcoming ruling and what we need to know about the next step. Click on the THVideo!

Arkansas has a Health System Improvement initiative underway driven by pressing concerns in our state including:

  • high rates of chronic disease
  • severely insufficient access to health services in many rural parts of the state
  • costs that are rising at an unsustainable rate
  • a fractured and uncoordinated system of care
  • 25% of Arkansans between the ages of 19 and 64 without health insurance. The majority of these uninsured citizens are working adults.

Health system improvement in Arkansas includes activity in three areas:
1. Getting all health care providers using electronic health records.
2.Increasing the availability of primary care services in rural Arkansas.
3.Changing the way we pay health care providers to improve the experience and quality of care for people when they use the system.

These three activities have been undertaken independent of the Affordable Care Act and will continue regardless of the Supreme Court decision.

The fourth activity is establishing a health insurance exchange. The Supreme Court decision will tell us whether or not we have to have the exchange. With the exchange we will have access to millions of dollars in federal subsidies to help Arkansans get health insurance. Without the exchange we won't have access to those dollars and the 25% of Arkansans now currently without health insurance will likely remain uninsured.

You can find more information at Arkansas Center for Health Improvement's website.

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