Has Arkansas Really Passed a Bill to Pay for Regen Med?

by Chris Centeno, MD /

arkansas bill for prp and stem cells

This past week, a few different press releases and blogs commented that Arkansas just passed a bill through the statehouse that requires payors to reimburse for PRP and stem cell treatments? If true, this would be a game changer for physicians offering these services. However, like all things in life, this is a little bit of truth mixed with a whole lot of hyperbole. So don’t buy any plane tickets quite yet to Razorback country!

What the Bill Started Out to Be Is Not What Was Passed

We have been monitoring this bill closely for a while. It started out as a bill that would have required payors in Arkansas to reimburse for regenerative-medicine treatments in orthopedics. However, the political process had its way with the bill, and what was passed was a shadow of its former self. So what does it say?

Right off the bat, you can already tell from the bill’s title and the word “explore” that this bill doesn’t force payors to do anything:

“AN ACT TO REQUIRE THE STATE AND PUBLIC SCHOOL LIFE AND HEALTH INSURANCE BOARD TO EXPLORE EMERGING THERAPIES AND COST-EFFECTIVENESS OF TREATMENT”

The actual bill language waters things down further:

(a) By the end of plan year 2017, the State and Public School Life and Health Insurance Board shall explore the evidence supporting opportunities for benefit modification informed by:
(1) The Choosing Wisely Initiative;
(2) Emerging therapies; and
(3) Therapeutic alternatives to invasive surgical procedures, such as regenerative injection therapy.
(b) By July of 2018, the State and Public School Life and Health
Insurance Board shall:
(1) Identify and consider implementation of pilot programs that include stepped therapy or center of excellence approaches, or both, for
which evidence demonstrates cost savings to the plan; and
Identify opportunities to stimulate conversations between patients and providers about appropriate and necessary treatment, including
treatment recommendations identified by the Choosing Wisely Initiative.

What Does the Arkansas Bill Mean?

So what does all that mean? The idea was that the state health plan for government workers and the schools would be required to begin reimbursing for orthopedic regenerative-medicine procedures. However, once the bill was in committee, language was inserted to water it down.

What does it require the state to do? Well, it doesn’t require the state to do much other than to think about whether regenerative medicine might be a good idea to save money. Outside of that, nothing but a few meetings and the use of guidelines that may kill the project are required.

Note the highlighted words and phrases like “shall explore,” “consider,” “identify opportunities,” and “stimulate conversations.” This inserted language all but assures that the state health plan doesn’t have to do anything and is committed to nothing. It’s lots of legislative speak that sounds good but will ensure nothing gets accomplished.

The upshot? Should you move to Arkansas and begin billing the state health plan for PRP or stem cells? Nope. My guess is that the state health plan will kick your bills right back marked as “experimental” and unpaid. Is this Arkansas bill a start? Maybe. It opens the door for a conversation, but the language that passed is only a tiny crack in the door. So cancel those plane tickets to Arkansas other than to enjoy Razorback football and call them Hogs!

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4 thoughts on “Has Arkansas Really Passed a Bill to Pay for Regen Med?

  1. Alice Whitfield

    I called medacare, they said to come up with codes w my Dr. To get it covered. As if that was the lacking of.My Dr. Was interested.Said Regenexx would be the ones to come up with codes that matched processer.And that I should have that conversation with Regenexx.?Alice. Whitfield

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Alice,
      It is illegal to bill Medicare with codes that don’t match the procedure and punishable with jail time.

  2. Dan Sheldon

    If Regenexx Stem Cell platelet procedures for hip injuries is not covered by insurance since this is considered experimental, then what will be the cost for this procedure ?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Dan,
      It depnends on what needs to be done.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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Knees are the target of many common sports injuries. Sadly, they are also the target of a number of surgeries that research has frequently shown to be ineffective or minimally effective. Knee arthritis can also be a common cause for aging athletes to abandon the sports and activities they love. Regenerative procedures can be used to treat a wide range of knee injuries and conditions. They can even be used to reduce pain and delay knee replacement for more severe arthritis.

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Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

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  • Degenerative Disc Disease
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Hand and wrist injuries and arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and conditions relating to overuse of the thumb, are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
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Most injuries of the elbow’s tendons and ligaments, as well as arthritis, can be treated non-surgically with regenerative procedures.

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Hip

Hip injuries and degenerative conditions become more common with age. Do to the nature of the joint, it’s not quite as easy to injure as a knee, but it can take a beating and pain often develops over time. Whether a hip condition is acute or degenerative, regenerative procedures can help reduce pain and may help heal injured tissue, without the complications of invasive surgical hip procedures.

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Foot & Ankle

Foot and ankle injuries are common in athletes. These injuries can often benefit from non-surgical regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
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