No story has dominated the political landscape in recent years in Arkansas like health care. The state’s surprising decision to expand Medicaid – something that seemed a near-impossibility in the anti-Obamacare climate in the South – directly impacted the lives of more than 300,000 Arkansans, brought billions of dollars into the state economy and saved hospitals tens of millions in uncompensated care costs.
But the policy debate continues. Under Governor Hutchinson, the state has received a waiver from the federal government of Medicaid rules that have radically remade Medicaid expansion in Arkansas. ANNN is explaining and investigating these policies beyond the talking points and telling the human stories of people impacted by them on the ground. Follow that reporting here.
Corruption in Arkansas is a colorful tale, but it can also be convoluted and complex. Covering it requires both digging into the details and making sense of the big picture, both vibrant storytelling and dogged investigation. What all of the stories ANNN is working on have in common is a disregard for the public interest. They depend on the public remaining in the dark. If Arkansas is to hold its leaders accountable, the public must have a clear-eyed understanding of what public servants are doing with their dollars and in their name. Follow that reporting here.
In 2015, the Arkansas Times reported on the “rehoming” of two young girls adopted by state Rep. Justin Harris with another family, where one of the children was abused. In the wake of that story, the Times raised about $23,000 through crowdfunding and a grant to further investigate the state’s child welfare system. Some of that money went to pay Kathryn Joyce, an award-winning reporter based in New York City, who has twice traveled to Arkansas for extended periods. She wrote five in-depth articles for the Times in a special series titled “Children in Crisis."
In November 2016, the state Department of Human Services released a report outlining ways to stabilize the child welfare system, including ambitious goals to hire more caseworkers, increase placement of children with relatives, streamline the foster parent application process and eliminate reliance on behavioral health institutions for foster children. All were topics on which Joyce extensively reported for the Arkansas Times.
To give the coverage a wider audience, the child welfare project now lives at ANNN. Follow the reporting here.
What’s Arkansas's energy future? Is hog manure polluting the Buffalo River watershed? Is the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality doing all it can to fulfill its mission to protect the environment? ANNN wants to explore these and more crucial questions in an extending reporting project.
Education and tax issues at the state Capitol
Ibby Caputo, of Newton County, provided ANNN’s coverage from the state Capitol. A 2014-2015 MIT-Knight Science Journalism Fellow, Caputo covered health care, transportation and breaking news as a reporter for WGBH’s Boston Public Radio and WGBH-TV. Her work has aired on “The World,” “NPR News,” “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” “Weekend Edition,” “Marketplace Morning Report” and “ Marketplace Tech .” Her journalism, essays and photography have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, Cape Cod Times, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, theAtlantic.com and elsewhere.
Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.