Arkansas Senate Updates Any Willing Provider Law

February 9, 2005

Without debate, the Arkansas Senate approved legislation Monday that would breathe new life into Arkansas’ Any Willing Provider law, adopted a decade ago to allow Arkansans covered by managed-care health insurance plans to see the doctor of their choice.

Senators passed the any-willing-provider bill 23-2 and sent it to the House nearly a decade after the Legislature adopted a law in 1995 to bar insurers from excluding from its health coverage plans any health provider willing to accept its payment terms.

At the time, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield succeeded in getting a court injunction to halt implementation of the law, which has been tied up in court since.

A judge’s decision last year to lift the injunction was stayed pending the outcome of an appeal by Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Arkansas’ largest health insurance carrier.

U.S. District Judge James Moody’s ruling last year cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision last April upholding Kentucky’s any-willing-provider law, which Sen. Steve Faris, D-Malvern, used in drafting the proposed new Arkansas law.

It would bar health insurers from discriminating against any provider within the geographical coverage area of the health-benefit plan who is willing to meet the terms and conditions for participation.

The proposal would include the state Medicaid program and Medicaid partnerships. It would not require or prohibit the same reimbursement for different types of providers or require any plan to offer coverage that includes the services of any particular type of provider.

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