Wel­come to Arkansas

Florida’s loss is this state’s gain

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

NEVER MIND a new sher­iff in town. That’s an easy job. At least com­pared to fig­ur­ing out all this health-care in­sur­ance, Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion, 138-per­cent-above-the-poverty-line, In­ter­net ex­changes, and the much needed cleans­ing of the Med­i­caid rolls. No won­der this thing’s a con­fus­ing mess. It might take a doc­tor­ate in bu­reau­cracy just to un­der­stand half of it.

Now comes Rose Mur­ray Naff into our state to help. May the road rise to meet her.

Ac­cord­ing to the news re­lease an­nounc­ing Ms. Naff’s ap­point­ment: “We rec­og­nized that our next [direc­tor of the Depart­ment of Med­i­cal Ser­vices] needed a unique ré­sumé— Med­i­caid, man­aged care and in­sur­ance— to suc­cess­fully over­see the im­ple­men­ta­tion of our Arkansas Med­i­caid re­forms that no other state is do­ing.” Which means she may be the right fit for this chal­leng­ing job.

Or as the news re­lease con­cluded: “We’re de­lighted Rose is join­ing our Med­i­caid lead­er­ship team at this crit­i­cal time.” So should be the cit­i­zens and tax­pay­ers of this state. Wel­come! (May we sug­gest a tomato gar­den in the spring and a day trip through the Ozarks in the fall.)

Rose Naff would seem suited to bring this state’s Med­i­caid sys­tem into a new and bet­ter era af­ter she left the pro­gram dubbed Florida Healthy Kids a decade ago. Then she su­per­vised that state’s Depart­ment of Busi­ness and Reg­u­la­tion and some out­fit called Florida Health Choices. So she’s no novice when it comes to busi­ness-like man­age­ment. She seems to have been in­volved in big op­er­a­tions and small ones, and may be one more per­son who has ex­pe­ri­ence with what works and, maybe more im­por­tantly, what does not.

Now she’s quoted as say­ing that she’s “truly ex­cited to be join­ing the team [and] . . . Gov­er­nor Hutchin­son’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. The chal­lenges Arkansas faces . . . are not new to me. My ex­pe­ri­ence with sig­nif­i­cant im­ple­men­ta­tions and on­go­ing op­er­a­tions will be a good fit.” In ad­di­tion, she al­ready speaks the cor­po­rate lingo flu­ently.

What’s more, Ms. Naff adds, her mother, grand­fa­ther and great-grand­mother were all Arkansans. So she’s fam­ily. Doesn’t every­body have an Arkansas con­nec­tion?

The re­design of the depart­ment that lies ahead won’t be easy. Some 60,000 peo­ple now in the Med­i­caid pro­gram, aka Arkansas Works, will have to be moved off the books. transferring some re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to man­aged care com­pa­nies, at least for den­tal work, etc. etc. It’ll be a new world as well as a new lingo for many Arkansans, but Ms. Naff will surely be an­other help­ing hand to guide the rest of us through this maze. And a lot of us need all the help we can get.

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