Walmart Joins Arkansas Health Care Payment Improvement Initiative

Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:00am EST

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Groundbreaking Program to Improve Quality, Reduce Costs, Establish Model for
Other States
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.,  Jan. 10, 2013  /PRNewswire/ --  Arkansas  Governor  Mike
Beebe  announced today that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is joining a
groundbreaking effort to create a more patient-centered and cost-efficient
health payment system through the Arkansas Payment Improvement Initiative
(APII). Walmart has committed  $670,000  to underwrite the ongoing work of the
new program, the first of its kind in  the United States.

"We have worked for the past two years to bring the public and private sectors
together in order to provide better health care in more cost-efficient ways,"
Governor  Mike Beebe  said.  "It's critical that large, self-insured companies
like Walmart be involved in this complex work that has the potential to serve as
a model for the rest of the nation.  With more than one million people on its
health plan, Walmart's willingness to step forward and lead in this effort shows
the company's continued pursuit of innovation and the initiative's potential for
the future of health care."

Now in the first phase of implementation, the Arkansas Payment Improvement
Initiative is designed to reward physicians, hospitals and other providers who
give patients high-quality care at an appropriate cost.  The long-term goal is
to build a new and sustainable system that provides the best possible health
care for Arkansans through team-based approaches and cost containment.  For
example, when primary care providers actively encourage patients to use
preventive services, patients can manage chronic diseases and reduce future
serious illnesses and costly treatments.  And, when people receive appropriate
follow-up care after hospitalizations, the likelihood of hospital readmissions
can be dramatically reduced, which results in better health and lower costs.

As part of the agreement, Walmart will serve on the newly created APII Employer
Advisory Council, fund the development and distribution of information to the
public that explains how payments are being restructured, and help underwrite an
annual statewide tracking report that will evaluate the impact and effectiveness
of the project.

"We are very supportive of this work that will reward doctors, hospitals and
other providers who offer great care at an appropriate cost," said  Sally
Welborn, Walmart senior vice president of benefits. "Governor Beebe is leading a
first-of-a-kind payment-reform effort in  Arkansas  that health experts
elsewhere are following closely. We respect the work being done in  Arkansas,
and we are excited about the opportunity to offer real support to such a
meaningful project in our home state."

Health care costs in  the United States  are projected to increase 6.3 percent
in 2013.  The average deductible for an individual on health plans in the U.S.
increased nearly 9 percent last year.

"Our health care system is at a tipping point brought on by rising costs, an
increasingly unhealthy population and a fragmented system of care," said
Arkansas Surgeon General Dr.  Joe Thompson. "We need all hands on deck if we are
to restructure the health care system to better meet the needs of our citizens. 
Private companies pay for a large portion of our health care costs.  So, it is
very encouraging to have an organization of Walmart's stature join this
important effort."

SOURCE  Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.; Arkansas Center for Health Improvement

Matt DeCample, Office of Governor Mike Beebe, +1-501-683-6414; or Randy
Hargrove, Walmart, 1-800-331-0085, or Debra Pate, Arkansas Center for Health
Improvement, +1-501-526-2244
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