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Introducing Judy Watson, In Her Own Words!

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Introducing Judy Watson, In Her Own Words!

by: 
Pearl Lim, ANCOR Summer Intern

Hello and thank you for taking the time to tell us a bit about yourself! What first sparked your interest in disability services? What forced you to get your foot in the door, and how did you?

Actually I was raised in it. It’s funny because I don’t know if you knew Patti who was the previous legislative director here before I took her place, but my mom worked for her when I was in junior high. She worked in the children programs; she did home training and things like that. I can remember my mom would dress kids for some of the families she worked with on the weekends,  bring kids home, and that kind of thing, and that kind of sparked my interest.

Then my sister, after she graduated from college, went to work for the program. And my family was in full-participation, my dad who was a lieutenant who actually worked with Patti too, in fact in the state it was one of the first programs that funneled money through a nonprofit to serve kids at the school level. So, I kind of grew up with it. And after I got married, Patti actually called me. She needed someone to help her on a day program for adults, and she called and wanted to know if I’d be interested in interviewing. I did and she hired me and that was 28 years ago.

I’ve actually done a little bit of everything.  I started out in the day program as just more of a lead kind of person. I’ve worked in nearly everything but the preschool here. I started there and then I went into the residential. I worked for the ICF, I’ve worked in waivers, and I supervised them all on my way up. Then, I moved over into support services, case management, and that side in compliance before I moved into this position [Executive Director/CEO, Rainbow of Challenges]

I hear your state recently did something exciting by setting up a provider-led managed care network. So your state put out kind of a request for interest and then you guys put in your letter of intent. What was the impetus for your state to put this out? Was it based in legislation, a budget decision, what got them moving in this direction?

“Two years ago when the new governor was elected he actually appointed a Medicaid task force of legislators to look into savings in Medicaid, just because it’s not sustainable – that went on for like two years. The room was kind of divided into those that were pushing for full-capitated manage- care, there was another group that was pushing for some type of provide- led model, and a few legislators had come up with kind of a framework for that.

They couldn’t come to a consensus on anything, so at the end of that process, the state and DHS office kind of just said ‘Okay let’s look at this provider-led model.’ The state met with some large hospitals and that’s kind of how that got started. In moving, we did a bunch of forms and talked about what it might look like. Then we kind of just got behind it with the coalition of DD providers and other providers, and pushed the [provider-led] bill

And it passed! This was really exciting that we were able to do that. Now each of the five entities that have done their letter of intent, are all partnering with a managed-care company because none of us have the infrastructure to do the billing. The law does say that it has to be at least 51& provider-led so, the care company can have 49%. So, in some cases it probably is going to be an even higher percentage of provider-led (services?) depending on the capital that a hospital has.”

In closing, what are some things in addition to enabling provider-led networks in Arkansas that are really working in Arkansas?

“Just from talking to people across the country, we have probably one of the most comprehensive waiver plans that you can have. It’s been amazing listening to people and they go ‘Wow, really, y’all offer all of that!’. Because it includes not only the supported living piece, but we have a work piece in it, we have adaptive equipment in it, and adaptations to home. It’s really comprehensive in what all it covers. “

Judy it’s been a pleasure talking with you! Please keep us posted on what you hear, what you learn, and if you guys make the final cut and get to move forward with your venture.

“Absolutely, thanks so much!”