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A women's clothing store owner who is treasurer of the state Republican Party has been named director of a new state unit responsible for reducing waste and improper spending in the state's $7 billion Medicaid program.

As director of the Human Services Department's Payment Integrity Unit, John Parke, 54, of Paron will supervise four employees and be paid $88,986 annually, department spokeswoman Amy Webb said.

He will start Monday.

Human Services Department Deputy Director Mark White said in a news release Parke has experience looking into businesses' finances, data systems and processes to make them more efficient.

"That's a skill he can really leverage in Medicaid," White said in the release. "When we interviewed John for this position, he had a really good grasp of the opportunities this type of unit will find."

Gov. Asa Hutchinson last month announced the department would create the Payment Integrity Unit to identify sources of waste and increase the recovery of improper payments from health care providers.

The unit will work with the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General, which was created in 2013 and replaced the Human Services Department's program integrity unit.

The Medicaid program provides health coverage to about 900,000 Arkansans, including 230,000 low-income adults who became eligible under the program's expansion approved by the Legislature in 2013.

Parke said Thursday he'll step down from his post as chairman of the Republican Party's Pulaski County committee and will likely step down as state party treasurer to avoid any conflicts of interest in his new job.

He has been chairman of the county committee since January and treasurer of the state party since 2010.

Parke was chief operating officer of Democrat Printing & Lithographing in Little Rock from 2009 until about a year ago, when he resigned to set up a shopping website for Beyond Cotton.

Parke and his wife, Susan, bought the Little Rock clothing store two years ago. According to his resume, he installed a computerized point-of-sale and inventory-management system at the store and established procedures to track inventory for online sales.

Parke has also worked for Systematics, which is now part of Fidelity National Information Services, and the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, where he was a data processing manager and data analyst.

He graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1983 with a degree in math and minor in computer science.

Parke said he had contacted Jon Gilmore, Hutchinson's deputy chief of staff, and told Gilmore he was available "if there's something that needs to be done."

"He thought of me and had passed my name along to DHS, and we interviewed and just felt like it was a good connection," Parke said.

He said the job will involve "a culmination of the different skills that I've developed," including running a business and analyzing data.

"It looks like a great challenge and something I'm looking forward to," Parke said.

NW News on 11/06/2015

Print Headline: Director named for DHS division

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Archived Comments

  • Goad
    November 6, 2015 at 9:04 a.m.

    While the gentleman looks like he has good experience and is qualified, why are we creating another bureaucratic duplication. We have the Medicaid Inspector General who should be fraud seeking. Appears just another expense that could be avoided.

  • hurricane46
    November 6, 2015 at 4:47 p.m.

    The Repubs are good at creating high paying jobs to oversee nothing, and they say they're all for smaller government, yea, right.

  • goneal
    November 6, 2015 at 9:18 p.m.

    I used to work for Mr. Parke several years and about all he wanted to do was play golf. He was a pretty good golfer, I can say that.

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