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Introducing Judy Watson, In Her Own Words!

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Introducing Judy Watson, In Her Own Words!

by: 
Pearl Lim, ANCOR Summer Intern

We continue our series by introducing you to another member of our Board of Representatives: Judy Watson. Judy is the CEO of Rainbow of Challenges, Inc. in Hope, Arkansas.

What first sparked your interest in disability services?

Actually I was raised in it. My mom worked for the previous legislative director here at Rainbow of Challenges when I was in junior high. She worked in the children programs; she did home training and things like that. I can remember my mom would dress kids for some of the families she worked with on the weekends,  bring kids home, and that kind of thing, and that kind of sparked my interest.

Then my sister, after she graduated from college, went to work for the program. And my family was in full participation. So, I kind of grew up with it. And after I got married, Rainbow of Challenges actually called me. They needed someone to help on a day program for adults, and she called and wanted to know if I’d be interested in interviewing. I did, and was hired – 28 years ago!

I’ve actually done a little bit of everything.  I started out in the day program as just more of a lead kind of person. I’ve worked in nearly everything but the preschool here. I started there and then I went into the residential. I worked for the ICF, I’ve worked in waivers, and I supervised them all on my way up. Then, I moved over into support services, case management, and that side in compliance before I moved into this position [CEO, Rainbow of Challenges, Inc.]

Your state recently did something exciting by setting up a provider-led managed care network. So your state put out kind of a request for interest and then you guys put in your letter of intent. What was the impetus for your state to put this out? Was it based in legislation, a budget decision, what got them moving in this direction?

“Two years ago when the new governor was elected, he actually appointed a Medicaid task force of legislators to look into savings in Medicaid, just because it’s not sustainable – that went on for two years. The room was divided into those that were pushing for full-capitated managed care, there was another group that was pushing for some type of provider led model, and a few legislators had come up with kind of a framework for that.

They couldn’t come to a consensus on anything, so at the end of that process, the state and DHS office said ‘Okay let’s look at this provider-led model.’ The state met with some large hospitals and that’s how that got started. In moving, we did a bunch of forms and talked about what it might look like. Then we got behind it with the coalition of DD providers and other providers, and pushed the [provider-led] bill

And it passed! This was really exciting that we were able to do that. Now each of the five entities have done their letters of intent, are all partnering with a managed-care company because none of us have the infrastructure to do the billing. The law does say that it has to be at least 51% provider-led.

What are some things in addition to enabling provider-led networks in Arkansas that are really working in Arkansas?

“Just from talking to people across the country, we have one of the most comprehensive waiver plans that you can have. It’s been amazing listening to people and they go ‘Wow, really, y’all offer all of that!’. Because it includes not only the supported living piece, but we have a work piece in it, we have adaptive equipment in it, and adaptations to home. It’s really comprehensive in what it covers. “

Judy it’s been a pleasure talking with you! Please keep us posted on next steps in Arkansas.

“Absolutely, thanks so much!”