Wal-Mart to join Arkansas healthcare initiative

Little Rock, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Arkansas governor Mike Beebe announced Thursday that Wal-Mart will join an Arkansas program intended to change the way that private insurers and Medicaid pay for services. Wal-Mart’s Arkansas employees’ insurance plans, which cover about 57,000 workers, will become a part of the statewide program.

The retailer has committed $670,000 toward a tracking system to measure the program’s success as well as distribute information about the reforms.

Wal-Mart will also serve on an employer advisory council for the state.

The Arkansas Payment Improvement Initiative moves away from a fee-for-service model to one where insurers pay for "episodes" of care rather than each individual treatment.

"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," said Sally Welborn, Wal-Mart's SVP benefits.