Educating state leaders and elected officials about the services and benefits to the constituents in their communities is one of many ways we are able to be a voice for Arkansans.
Historically: In 2001, assisted living legislation was passed after many years of ARALA leadership educating state leaders about the benefits of assisted living. Legislative changes that would have required facilities to increase trained staff or provide health care assessments with no reimbursement were examples of changes that ARALA was also able to affect. During previous legislative sessions, the future of Medicaid in facilities was in question and required a great deal of effort on the part of the Association. There was also a strong push to have the Permit of Approval (POA) program abolished. The POA program is to ensure adequate services in areas of need while preventing over-building by allowing only projects that can establish the need for the facility to be completed. Again, the association worked on behalf of its members and more largely, other home and community-based stakeholders as a whole.
One of the key duties of the Association is to monitor and act on new regulations. This is a regulated industry, and regulations affect many areas of our work. The Association tracks and represents the industry where issues arise that affect our communities. Complying with regulations is necessary while also raising the cost of providing care. Since it is necessary to comply, regulations should protect or establish minimum standards making a difference for our clients without undue burden on the operators.
In addition to the actual regulations, conflicts arise regarding how regulations are interpreted and applied. Many of the most costly changes that facilities have made involve how regulations are applied or interpreted by regulators. The Association works to see that regulations are applied in a manner in which facilities can comply.
As recently as 2022: The ARALA Legislative Committee working with the Department of Human Services (DHS) was able to educate legislators and the Arkansas Executive Branch about the reduced access to assisted living II services in Arkansas due to the declining Medicaid reimbursement rate. During the Public Health Emergency (PHE) DHS requested an Appendix K (temporary) rate increase. The temporary rate was approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). After a lengthy cost survey, a recommended permanent Medicaid reimbursement rate for Assisted Living II was submitted to CMS with a proposed effective date of 01/01/2023. The recommended rate was reviewed by the appropriate legislative committees.