Health System Improvement: Building a Healthier Future for All Arkansans

2012 National Conference

CSG Health Policy Task Force
Balancing Costs, Benefits of Medicaid Programs
December 1, 2012

The recent Supreme Court decision on health care reform squarely placed the decision on expanding Medicaid eligibility in the hands of the states. Policymakers are grappling with a myriad of arguments on both sides—and struggling to balance what their states can afford and what their uninsured state residents need. State leaders who have studied the question and arrived at different answers shared their analyses. Dr. Joseph Thompson, Arkansas’ surgeon general, also reviewed his state’s progress in implementing the nation’s first statewide Medicaid payment reform initiative. Other speakers addressed significant reform efforts to control Medicaid costs in their states.

Presentation by Dr. Joseph Thompson, Arkansas Surgeon General

Health System Improvement: Building a Healthier Future for All Arkansans


Joseph W. Thompson, MD, MPH

Dr. Joe Thompson’s work is centered at the intersection of clinical care, public health and health policy. He is responsible for developing health policy, research activities and collaborative programs that promote better health and health care in Arkansas. Dr. Thompson works closely with the governor’s office, the Arkansas legislature and public and private organizations across the state on relevant health policy topics.

Dr. Thompson has led vanguard efforts in planning and implementing health care financing reform, tobacco- and obesity-related health promotion and disease prevention programs. He was the lead architect of the Tobacco Settlement Act of 2000 and instituted the Arkansas Health Insurance Roundtable. Under his leadership, ACHI helped pass the Clean Indoor Air Act of 2006, documented the state’s success in halting progress of the childhood obesity epidemic, and helped implement ARHealthNetworks, Arkansas’s health care benefits waiver for low-income workers.

Dr. Thompson has been at the forefront of both Arkansas’s leading-edge efforts against childhood obesity and in national efforts to reverse childhood obesity as the former Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity.

He currently serves on the Arkansas Board of Health and is past president of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Nationally, Dr. Thompson serves on the board of the Campaign to End Obesity and of AcademyHealth, as well as serving on Institute of Medicine’s standing committee on childhood obesity.  He is author of numerous articles and publications that reflect his research interests in the areas of health and health care including access, quality and finance.

Dr. Thompson earned his medical degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He served as the RWJF Clinical Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Luther Terry Fellow in Preventive Medicine advising the U.S. assistant secretary of Health in Washington, D.C., and the assistant vice president and director of research at the National Committee for Quality Assurance in Washington, D.C.  In 1997, he served as the First Child and Adolescent Health Scholar of the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (then the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research) before returning to Arkansas.