/////UAMS Leading State Study; Readying for Increasing Health Care Demands
UAMS Leading State Study; Readying for Increasing Health Care Demands 2018-01-05T09:12:47+00:00

DEC. 27, 2005 | As one of the country’s unhealthiest states, Arkansas doesn’t lack for challenges when it comes to health care. But bigger challenges are ahead.

Fortunately, an effort is under way to plan for the increasing demands expected on the state’s health care system and other state services. Announced at a Dec. 16 news conference, the effort is called Arkansas 2020 and is coordinated by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health.

Speaking at the event, UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., likened the coming health care needs to a train rumbling down the track.

Nationally, 35 million people are over age 65, and the 75 million baby boomers are now ages 41-59.

“They’re reaching an age when they’re going to need a lot more care,” Wilson told television, radio and print media. “The impact will be felt even more because many of these baby boomers also provide health care. So they are going to disappear as care givers about the time baby boomers need more care. It’s very clear we’re going to need more providers.”

Wilson also noted that Arkansas’ population growth is driven now by immigration, which is creating a shift in demographics.

“Much our immigration right now is from Latin America,” he said. “Latinos have their own set of health care needs, and many of them also speak a different language, so we’re facing a crisis there.”

“Finally, our country has a very expensive health care system and we don’t have enough money to pay for it,” Wilson said. “We have 45 million people without insurance, so all of this is coming like a train going down the track.”

Given the circumstances, Wilson and College of Public Health Dean James M. Raczynski, Ph.D., lauded plans for the Arkansas 2020 study, a state legislative initiative spearheaded by Sen. Shane Broadway of Bryant.

Broadway proposed the study and has solicited participation from the leaders of all Arkansas public universities and agencies.

Ty Borders, Ph.D., associate professor of Health Policy and Management at the College of Public Health will be the study coordinator and contact for all participating state agencies. The study’s findings will be reported to the Legislature by December 2006.

Broadway noted that 14 percent of Arkansans are 65 or older compared to 12.4 percent nationally, and that Arkansas has the country’s second-fastest growing Hispanic population, with many unable to speak English.

“We need to know what specific demands these and other changes in demographics will place on Arkansas, its government and its communities,” Broadway said.

The study is modeled after a similar effort in New York called Project 2015.