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story.lead_photo.caption Department of Human Services Director Cindy Gillespie (center), flanked by Craig Cloud, director of aging and adult services, and Dawn Stehle, deputy director for health and Medicaid, talk Thursday to reporters about the department’s new Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance. Cloud will be director of the new division. - Photo by Staton Breidenthal

More than 170 employees responsible for inspecting, certifying or licensing facilities that provide services to Medicaid recipients will be transferred to a new division within the Department of Human Services on Oct. 1 as part of a reorganization authorized by the Legislature earlier this year, department officials said Thursday.

The Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance will take over the inspection and certification or licensing of facilities such as nursing homes and mental health clinics, organizations that serve the developmentally disabled and agencies that provide home health-care workers.

Those oversight duties are now handled by four other divisions within the Department of Human Services. The new division also will take over responsibility for training the providers on the department's regulations and will study the workforce needs of the department and health care providers.

At a briefing for reporters on Thursday, Human Services Department officials said the change is designed to reduce duplication of services, improve coordination of inspections and minimize the hassle for providers who have had to deal with multiple department divisions.

The new division also will be better able to spot similar violations committed by different types of providers, Department Director Cindy Gillespie said.

"When you start to see the same thing occurring, it means we aren't educating and training them right, and it also then informs what you're going to inspect on," Gillespie said.

The new division will allow the department to more easily coordinate investigations into occurrences such as the June 12 death of a 5-year-old boy who was left in a van at an Ascent Children's Health Services day care in West Memphis, department officials said.

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That facility is monitored as a provider of health services to children and had also provided Medicaid-funded nonemergency medical transportation.

It also is licensed by the department's Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education. That division's inspectors, who monitor child care centers, won't move to the new division, however.

The inspectors from the department's divisions on services for the aging, developmentally disabled and mentally ill, as well as the Division of Medical Services' Office of Long Term Care, will move to the new division Oct. 1.

Craig Cloud, director of the Division of Aging and Adult Services, will become director of the new division.

The Aging and Adult Services Division, meanwhile, will be merged with the Division of Behavioral Health Services to form the Division of Aging, Adult and Behavioral Health Services. Behavioral Health Services Division Director Jay Hill will lead the combined division.

The changes were authorized under Act 913, which was passed by the Legislature this year.

Gillespie said the change won't result in layoffs, but it could allow some reduction in staff through attrition. The new inspection division might also be able to save money by consolidating contracts now handled by other divisions.

Martha Deaver, president of Arkansas Advocates for Nursing Home Residents, said she was happy to learn that the change won't affect the leadership of the Office of Long Term Care, which inspects nursing homes.

Carol Shockley will continue to direct the office but will report to Cloud instead of Medical Services Division Director Rose Naff.

"Time will tell if there are any negative consequences for the Office of Long Term Care," Deaver said. "I don't see that happening as long as Carol Shockley is in charge."

Mike McCreight, director of Jacksonville-based Pathfinder, which provides services to the developmentally disabled and is inspected by multiple department divisions, called the change "a great concept."

"It's important for both sides that [inspectors] don't spend their resources on redundancy or duplication and we don't spend the resources responding to them," McCreight said. "It's an opportunity to be more efficient and effective from both perspectives."

Metro on 08/25/2017

Print Headline: DHS unit to oversee Medicaid providers

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