BENTON, Ark. – A new Medicaid-focused DHS division is improving the lives of Arkansans with disabilities. 

The Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance (DPSQA) will integrate five existing divisions and about 170 positions, after DHS leadership found a lot of overlap and inconsistencies. 

Friendship Community Care, which serves 45 of the 75 counties in the state, experienced that firsthand. 

“Understanding that some of what one division may do may be a duplication of what another division does,” said Debbie Stehling, the regional director of adult services for Friendship Community Care. “Being able to streamline that and expedite the way we communicate with families, it’s a cost savings.”

DHS Director Cindy Gillespie said DPSQA will improve everything from background checks to inspections to online reports, things Stehling said she and other organizations have pushed for. 

“We’ve been working on change for a very, very long time with the state,” Stehling said. “Thankfully, the state has been very welcome to get the input and the assistance from providers who are out there firsthand with the families.”

Stehling serves about 180 kids and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in central Arkansas. 

“Most days, it doesn’t feel like work,” she said. “I’m truly coming and making a difference in the individuals’ lives we serve. We are absolutely ecstatic about the changes.” 

Stehling said DPSQA also allows providers to create care plans specific to each client, which opens the door to additional services for them. 

“All the same things you and I like to do,” she said. “We all have desires and dreams to go to school, go to college, work, have our own homes. We are in the humanitarian field. We understand there’s paperwork and red tape that we have to jump through, but truly the root of what we do is serve and support people.”

Thanks to the new division, Stehling said 500 of the 4,000 Arkansans on the Medicaid waiver waiting list will be removed and have access to more services. 

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Medicaid Provider: New DHS Division Improves Clients’ Lives – KARK