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AR Governor Mike Huckabee Unveils New Health Care Insurance Program to Provide Safety Net to Workers

Innovative Program Called 'True Partnership' Between Arkansas, Federal Government, Businesses and Families

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Dec. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Gov. Mike Huckabee has announced a new innovative plan to give small business owners and their employees in Arkansas better access to health care coverage. The program is designed to provide a "safety-net" of benefits to workers who currently have no coverage, including those services that people need and use the most.

"This is just what the doctor ordered for the health and well-being of the state's small businesses," Gov. Huckabee said. "We have worked hard to find a solution to growing health care coverage concerns for employers and their employees who cannot afford basic benefits. ARKids First has been a huge success in covering children. ARHealthNet will now reach many of the uninsured adults."

The new program, called ARHealthNet, will offer affordable medical benefits to working adults who are employed by small businesses that have not been able to offer health care coverage. The program is the result of several years of planning and collaborative effort between DHHS, the Arkansas Health Insurance Roundtable, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, and the federal government, with guidance from the Arkansas Insurance Department. While available to all employees of qualified small businesses, the program will be supported by state Tobacco Settlement funds and federal funds for workers with annual household incomes of 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guideline or less.

"Using federal and state dollars, ARHealthNet helps employers cover the cost of insurance for their lower income employees. In return, employers agree to cover their entire workforce. It's a great partnership that really stretches our tobacco settlement dollars to meet a pressing need," DHHS Director John Selig said.

Employers began enrolling in the program on Dec. 20, 2006, with employee benefits beginning in January of 2007.

"ARHealthNet is one of the first true partnerships between state and federal government, businesses and families," said Joe Thompson, MD, PHD, and Arkansas' Surgeon General. "It's an innovative strategy for helping solve the problem of uninsurance among low-income workers."

NovaSys Health is administering the program for the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services. Employers can contact NovaSys Health via phone (800) 540-7566, or by going to their web site at http://www.novasyshealth.com/ if they are interested in obtaining information regarding the program.

Source: The Office of Governor Mike Huckabee

Copyright (2006) PRNewswire. All rights reserved.

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