Local lawmaker heads to capitol to address problems with PASSE program

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA)– Some Arkansas health providers are being forced to close from a lack of reimbursement for their services.

The Provider-Led Arkansas Shared Savings Entity, or PASSE program, aims to help Arkansans with disabilities connect with providers that will best match their needs.

But, both healthcare providers and patients in the program say it’s hurting more than helping; sparking State Representative Nicole Clowney to go to the Arkansas capitol to call for change. 

“It’s hard enough to have a special needs child and having to care for his needs and its not easy. They sit there and say they’re trying to help us but they’re not,” said Kaitlyn Presley, a mother concerned about the program.

Local families have shared with us how the PASSE  program has impacted their lives since it rolled out on March 1.

Tiffany Nance, another parent using PASSE, said, “We’ve spent every last nickel and dime that we possibly could to provide her formula and at 400 plus dollars a months that’s just not feasible with seven kids.”

Now, house and senate state agencies are coming together to take issues with the PASSE program and address them with the Department of Health and Human Services and PASSE representatives. 

State Representative Nicole Clowney said, “So many Arkansans depend on these services and in many cases it’s matters of life or death.” 

State Rep.Clowney said some providers have been forced to close because PASSE has not reimbursed them for their services.

In a previous meeting with PASSE, the program said it would have all of the unpaid claims paid within seven days.

But, the non-profit Life Styles Inc. said that’s not the case. 

“Hopefully it doesn’t affect our ability to pay our staff. It just puts unnecessary financial strain on the organization and in some cases we’ve had to do things like go to our line of credit to meet basic everyday expenses,” said John Newman, the executive director of Life Styles Inc.

Newman said because of this, Life Styles Inc. can not bring in new clients right now. 

“I’m concerned about Life Styles first and foremost, but I’m also concerned about all agencies that provide services for individuals with disabilities as we should all be, because this is our community and these are citizens of Arkansas and I hope that they get these situations figured out so that we’re able to provide the care and support that these individuals expect us to,” he said. 

State Rep. Clowney said, “It’s a really scary time for a lot of Arkansans and so we’re just trying to figure out what the problems are and how we can fix them as quickly as possible.”

The Arkansas Department of Human Services changed the open enrollment period for the PASSE program to Oct.1-31.

The department says this decision is meant to give the PASSE networks time to grow so members know which PASSES have signed with their providers. 

DHS said it’s also meant to give you more time to decide which extension of the program is best for your medical needs. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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