Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Jay BradfordQ: What challenges do you anticipate your particular state running into with upcoming health care reform provisions?
Jay Bradford: I see cost containment as the biggest challenge. Neither federal nor state regulators have the solution to that. Hopefully, we will see more reforms that will stabilize the situation; it will take more federal legislation. I know here in Arkansas, we will stay vigilant in protecting the treasury of the state during the implementation of these provisions.

Q: For producers licensed to sell health insurance in your state, what short-term developments might they look out for?
JB: In my view — and I come from an independent agent background having founded and run a successful statewide agency for 30 years — agents are key to the success of the exchanges. At the recent NAIC meeting in Orlando, I went on record in my support of removing agents’ compensation from the medical loss ratio (MLR) calculations. Unfortunately, this measure did not pass. My colleagues and I have appointed an EX subgroup to work with the Health and Human Services secretary to find a way to accommodate agent and broker compensation in the MLR as we work toward the 2014 implementation of the health insurance exchanges.

Q: What should producers concentrate on the most over the next 10 or so years with regard to health care reform’s affects in Arkansas?
JB: Their support is needed for continued state-based regulation. They should be focusing on the U.S. Congress, as they are the ones who can effect change when it comes to the provisions contained in PPACA.

Q: Is your state doing anything differently or preparing in any special way for health care reform?
JB: We think it is in the best interest of Arkansas’ citizens to keep all functions state-based rather than federally based. The new high risk pool is based here in the state, and we plan to manage our own exchange.

Jay Bradford was appointed Arkansas Insurance Commissioner on Jan. 15, 2009 by Gov. Mike Beebe. He has four decades of experience in the insurance industry, and previously served as the director of the Division of Behavioral Health Services within the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

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Arkansas Facts At-A-Glance

Arkansas United States
Demographics
Total population 2,831,900 303,343,300
Median annual income $39,392 $49,945
Health costs and budget
Health spending per capita $4,863 $5,283 (by state of residence)
Average employee contribution for family premium (% of total premium) 27% 27%
Health coverage
Uninsured population (% of total population) 19% 17%
Uninsured children (% of children) 11% 10%
Medicaid enrollment (% of total population) 24% 19%
Medicare enrollment (% of total population) 18% 15%
Monthly CHIP enrollment, June 2009 64,213 4,966,030
Health status
Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) 8.2 6.8
Teen death rate (per 100,000 population) 93 62
AIDS diagnosis rate (per 100,000 population) 5.3 12.3
Overweight or obese children (% of children) 37.5% 31.6%
Adults who visited the dentist/clinic (% of adults) 63.5% 71.3%
Adults with disabilities (% of adults) 17.6% 12.1%

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation State Health Facts