FORT SMITH ARKANSAS
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Latest News - FORT SMITH ARKANSAS

Kickin' Up Dirt


downtown on the Arkansas River. • The Optimist Club carnival in the Old Town Club parking lot, 503 Garrison Ave. • Cowboy poets reading the romance of the west at the Fort Smith Museum of History, after the rodeo parade Monday, 320 Rogers Ave.

Splash Down!


With their resources pooled together, they were able to create a bigger, better water park, says Ray Gosack, city administrator for Fort Smith. "We were able to add features that no water park has in eastern Oklahoma or western Arkansas," Gosack said to ...

Fort Smith Special Education Grads Celebrate Early


In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved to the Stubblefield Center at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. Northside High School’s ceremony will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mayo Thompson Stadium. Like Southside, the alternate ...

Tuition to increase at UA in Fayetteville, Fort Smith


The Arkansas Board of Trustees voted Thursday morning to raise tuition at the University of Arkansas campuses in Fayetteville and Fort Smith. The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville will raise costs about 4 percent, with out-of-state tuition rising ...

HBO To Produce Series About Legendary River Valley U.S. Marshal


It will give them enough time to tell a very detailed story, not only of Bass Reeves, but of Judge Parker, the other Marshals, the court of the western district of Arkansas, what Fort Smith’s role was.” Faber said Reeves died in 1910 but his story ...

Fort Smith, Ark.Toyota dealership highlights Toyota trucks with comprehensive model research


When surveying the Toyota model lineup, the 2015 Toyota Tundra in Fort Smith, AR stands out from the rest with a Herculean stature that harnesses unmitigated V-8 power to tow and haul massive amounts of cargo. Designed with a muscular style, the Toyota ...

Potluck: A Gooey Butter Cake to cherish


It’s very easy to make and very rich. I am originally from St. Louis and now reside in Fort Smith (Arkansas). This is always a hit when I make it and take it anywhere. I hope you can share this with your readers.” Thanks, Ron. You can count me as one ...

Fort Smith livestock auction report


The Fort Smith Livestock, Fort Smith, Arkansas, reported receipts of 100 head on May 11, compared to 435 head last week and 441 head last year, according to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture-USDA Market News Service, Little Rock, Arkansas. Compared to ...

Fort Smith airport to receive almost $600K in federal money


FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) - Members of Arkansas' congressional delegation have announced the Fort Smith Regional Airport will receive almost $592,000 in grant money from the Federal Aviation Administration. According to a Tuesday press release, the grant will ...

Arkansas River gets status upgrade


FORT SMITH — The McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System was upgraded this week from a “connector” to a “corridor” by the U.S. Department of Transportation, filling in the last dotted line on the U.S. marine highway map and giving a bette ...

PHOTOS: Heavy Rain At Fort Smith Pavilion


Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment FORT SMITH (KFSM) — Heavy rain overnight caused flooding at the Fo…

Fort Smith Police Seek Credit Card Fraud Suspect


FORT SMITH (KFSM) – The Fort Smith Police Department is looking for a credit card theft suspect, according to a news release. The man seen in the video above is accused of going to the Elite 24 Healt…

Downed Tree Crushes Two Cars In Fort Smith


FORT SMITH (KFSM) – A Fort Smith resident was picking up the pieces Sunday (May 10) after a massive tree in her front yard crushed her two vehicles. Linda Chaffin lives on Hardie Avenue, and said she…

Level-Four Sex Offender From Crawford County Located In Fort Smith


CRAWFORD COUNTY (KFSM) – A level-four sex offender, who was reported missing by his court-appointed caretaker in Crawford County, was located in Fort Smith, deputies say. Robert Ward, 56, left his re…

Two Hospitalized After Jeep And Truck Collision In Fort Smith


FORT SMITH (KFSM) – Two men were hospitalized after a Jeep and truck collision in Fort Smith on Monday afternoon (May 4), authorities say. The truck belonged to Ray’s Fort Smith Exterminator, and the…

PHOTOS: Fertilizer Truck Tips Over Onto Highway 71 In Fort Smith


Missing Attachment Missing Attachment FORT SMITH (KFSM) — A driver is cited after his truck carrying fertilizer rolls over on Rye Hill Rd. in Fort Smith, spilling the load, according to Fort Smith Po…

Old Fort Rimfire Challenge in Fort Smith


FORT SMITH (KFSM) — More than 100 competitors tested their shot at the National Shooting Sports Foundation Old Fort Rimfire Challenge at the Old Fort Gun Club this weekend. Shooters with different sk…

May’s E Fort Smith Issue, Looks At Importance Of Mentoring


FORT SMITH (KFSM) – Several studies have highlighted the importance of mentoring in a young one’s life, and in this “5NEWS This Morning” segment that aired Sunday (May 3), anchor Daren Bobb spoke to E…

Drug Task Force Seized Property Auction Takes Place In Fort Smith


FORT SMITH (KFSM)-The 21st Judicial District Drug Task Force Seized Property Auction got underway Saturday (May 2) at 10 a.m. Hundreds of people made their way out to the Kay Rodgers Park Expo Center…

Fort Smith Mayor Says May 12th Vote On Trails Is Quality Of Life Issue


FORT SMITH (KFSM) – Fort Smith voters will cast their ballots on May 12th deciding if five percent of an annual once-cent sales tax should go towards building 35 miles of biking and walking trails. Bu…




SPECIAL INFORMATION FOR FORT SMITH

Make Your Health Benefits Work for You in FORT SMITH ARKANSAS

The Department of Labor´s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) administers several important health benefit laws covering employer-based health plans. They govern your basic rights to information about how your health plan works, how to qualify for benefits, and how to make claims for benefits.

In addition, there are specific laws protecting your right to health benefits when you lose coverage or change jobs. EBSA also oversees health care laws covering special medical conditions. For more information on the laws that protect your benefits, see EBSA´s Website. Or call the agency toll free at 1-866-444-3272 to reach a regional office near you. These 10 tips can help make your health benefits work better for you.

1. Explore Your Options for Health Coverage

You have options for health coverage. There are many different types of health benefit plans. Find out what your employer offers, then check out the plan (or plans). Your employer´s human resource office, the health plan administrator, or your union can provide information to help you match your needs and preferences with the available plans. Or consider a health plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Visit HealthCare.gov to see the health plan options available in your area. Get information about all of your options and review it. The more information you have, the better your health care decisions will be.

2. Review the Benefits Available

Do the plans offered cover the benefits that are important to you, such as mental health services, well-baby care, vision or dental care? Are there deductibles? What are the out-of-pocket expenses you may face? Determine your needs and priorities. Compare all of your options before you decide which coverage to elect. Matching your needs and those of your family members will result in the best possible benefits. Cheapest may not always be best. Your goal is high quality health benefits.

3. Read Your Plan´s Summary Plan Description (SPD) for the Wealth of Information It Provides

Your health plan administrator should provide a copy. It outlines your benefits and your legal rights under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Federal law that protects your health benefits. It also should contain information about the coverage of dependents, what services will require a co-payment or coinsurance, and the circumstances under which your employer can change or terminate a health benefits plan. You also can find many of the answers to your questions in the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC), a short, easy-to-understand summary of what a plan covers and what it costs. You should receive a copy with your enrollment materials. Save the SPD, the SBC, and all other health plan brochures and documents, along with memos or correspondence from your employer relating to health benefits.

4. Use Your Health Coverage

Once your health coverage has started, use it to help cover medical costs for services like going to the doctor, filling prescriptions or getting emergency care. Using your benefits will help you and your family stay healthy and reduce your health care costs. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides many valuable protections for people enrolled in employment-based health plans including prohibiting preexisting condition exclusions and annual and lifetime limits on essential health benefits. What’s more, many plans cover certain preventive services for free, including routine vaccinations, regular well-baby and well-child visits, blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol tests, and many cancer screenings. You also can keep your children on your health plan until age 26. Take advantage of your benefits, especially free preventive care if your plan covers it. If you were required to pay cost-sharing for a preventive service, check your Explanation of Benefits and ensure that the provider billed the service properly.

5. Understand Your Plan’s Mental Health and Substance Use Coverage

Many health plans provide coverage for mental health and substance use disorder benefits. If a plan does offer these benefits, the financial requirements (such as co-payments and deductibles) and the quantitative treatment limits (such as visit limits) for the mental health and substance use disorder benefits cannot be more restrictive than the financial requirements or treatment limits applied to medical/surgical benefits. Plans also cannot impose lifetime and annual limits on the dollar amount of mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment. Some plans cover preventive services like screenings for depression and child behavioral assessments for free. Check your SPD and SBC to find out what your plan covers.

6. Look For Wellness Programs

More employers are establishing wellness programs that encourage employees to work out, stop smoking, and generally adopt healthier lifestyles. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the ACA encourage group health plans to adopt wellness programs but also includes protections for employees and dependents from impermissible discrimination based on a health factor. These programs often provide rewards such as cost savings as well as promoting good health. Check your SPD and SBC to see whether your plan offers a wellness program(s). If your plan does, find out what reward is offered and what you need to do to receive it.

7. Know How to File an Appeal if Your Health Benefits Claim is Denied

Understand your plan’s procedures for filing a claim for benefits and where to make appeals of the plan´s decisions. Pay attention to time limits – make sure you timely file claims and appeals and that the plan makes decisions on time. Keep records and copies of correspondence. Check your health benefits package and your SPD to determine who is responsible for handling problems with benefit claims. Contact EBSA for assistance if you are unable to obtain a response to your complaint.

8. Assess Your Benefits Coverage as Your Family Status Changes

Marriage, Porce, childbirth or adoption, the death of a spouse, and aging out of a parent’s health plan are life events that may signal a need to change your health benefits. You, your spouse, and your dependent children may be eligible for special enrollment into other employer health coverage or through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Even without life-changing events, the information provided by your employer should tell you how you can change benefits or switch plans. If you’re considering special enrollment, act quickly. You have 30 days after the life event to request special enrollment in other employer coverage or 60 days to select a plan in the Marketplace.

9. Be Aware that Changing Jobs and Other Work Events Can Affect Your Health Benefits

If you change employers or lose your job, you may need to find other health coverage. If you have a new job, consider enrolling in your new employer’s plan. Whether starting or losing a job, you may be eligible to special enroll in a spouse’s employer-sponsored plan or through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act – better known as COBRA – you, your covered spouse, and your dependent children may be eligible to continue coverage under your former employer-sponsored plan. This coverage is temporary (generally 18 to 36 months) and you may have to pay the entire premium plus a 2 percent administrative charge. Get information on your coverage options and compare. Be aware of the deadlines for deciding on coverage and find out when your new coverage will be effective.

10. Plan For Retirement

Before you retire, find out what health benefits, if any, extend to you and your spouse during your retirement years. Consult with your employer´s human resources office, your union, or the plan administrator. Check your SPD and other plan documents. Make sure there is no conflicting information among these sources about the benefits you will receive or the circumstances under which they can change or be eliminated. With this information in hand, you can make other important choices, like finding out if you are eligible for Medicare and Medigap insurance coverage. If you want to retire before you are eligible for Medicare and your employer does not provide health benefits in retirement, consider what you will do for health coverage. Your options may include enrolling in a spouse’s employer plan or in a Marketplace plan or temporarily continuing your employer coverage by electing COBRA. Planning for retirement includes planning for your health coverage in retirement. To find out more, read Taking the Mystery Out of Retirement Planning.

These Laws Can Help

  • The Employee Retirement Income Security Act – Offers protection for inPiduals enrolled in retirement, health, and other benefit plans sponsored by private-sector employers, and provides rights to information and a claims and appeals process for participants to get benefits from their plans.
  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – Creates the Health Insurance Marketplace and provides protections for employment-based health coverage, including extending dependent coverage of children to age 26; prohibiting preexisting condition exclusions and prohibiting lifetime and annual limits on essential health benefits.
  • The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act – Contains provisions giving certain former employees, retirees, spouses, and dependent children the right to purchase temporary continuation of group health plan coverage at group rates in specific instances.
  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – Allows employees, their spouses and their dependents to enroll in employer-provided health coverage regardless of open enrollment periods if they lose coverage or in the event of marriage, birth, adoption or placement for adoption. Also prohibits discrimination in health care coverage.
  • The Women´s Health and Cancer Rights Act – Offers protections for breast cancer patients who elect breast reconstruction in connection with a mastectomy.
  • The Newborns´ and Mothers´ Health Protection Act – Provides rules on minimum coverage for hospital lengths of stay following childbirth.
  • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act – Prohibits discrimination in group health plan premiums based on genetic information. Also, generally prohibits group health plans from requesting genetic information or requiring genetic tests.
  • The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Mental Health Parity Act – Requires parity in financial requirements and treatment limitations for mental health and substance use benefits with those for medical and surgical benefits.
  • The Children´s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act – Allows special enrollment in a group health plan if an employee or dependents lose coverage under CHIP or Medicaid or are eligible for premium assistance under those programs.

For More Information

Visit the Employee Benefits Security Administration’s Website to view the following publications. To order copies or to request assistance from a benefits advisor, contact EBSA electronically or call toll free 1-866-444-3272.

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Tips to Prevent Data Theft in FORT SMITH ARKANSAS

Today, it’s quick and easy to get a credit card approved, transfer money from one account to another, renew your driver’s license, fill a prescription from your doctor at your local pharmacy, use store loyalty cards, and purchase products online. But you pay for this convenience by providing more opportunities for your personal information to be changed, stolen, or reported inaccurately. Companies can also use the information you have shared to direct their future marketing efforts or can sell the information to other companies. To help protect your privacy, follow these tips:

  • Look for privacy statements on websites, sales materials, and forms you fill out. If a website claims to follow a set of established voluntary standards, read the standards. Don´t assume they provide the level of privacy you want.
  • Ask how your personal information will be stored and used.
  • Only provide the purchase date, model/serial numbers, and your contact information of warranty registration forms.
  • Discuss privacy with others in your home. Everyone, even children, should understand what information is not appropriate to share on the phone, while using a computer, tablet, smart phone and in other situations.

Check with your state or local consumer agency to find out whether any state laws that help protect your privacy. Some companies and industry groups have also adopted voluntary policies that address privacy concerns.

Creating Secure Passwords

The number of passwords that you need on a daily basis can be overwhelming. It is tempting to use the same password across several sites; however to get the most protection available, you should use different passwords on each site and change your passwords periodically. The goal for creating passwords is to strike a balance between being something that is easy to remember and unique. Some general tips for creating a secure password include:

  • Use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • The longer password, the better it is.
  • Don’t use your name, birthday, license plate, favorite sports teams or other facts that are easily guessed.
  • Create a password based on a phrase. For example “A stitch in time saves nine” can be translated into the password “Ast!Ts9”. where each character represents a word in the phrase.
  • If you must use the same password on several websites, add a prefix or suffix. For example, use “Ast!Ts9:4bnk”for your bank account and “Eml: Ast!Ts9” for your email account.

Back to Top

Specialty Consumer Reports

Credit reports are not the only reports that you can get for free. The same law that allows you to get a free credit report each year also allows you to get a copy of specialty consumer reports. Just like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion collect your credit information, there are other companies that collect information about your medical, insurance, rental/tenant and alternative credit histories. Landlords, insurers and other companies buy these reports to help them decide whether or not they will offer their services to you.

Just like your credit reports, you have the right to a free annual report from each specialty consumer reporting agency. Since there is no centralized place to order these reports (like there is for credit reports), you must contact each agency individually. If you are planning to rent an apartment, ask the landlord for the name of the screening company that they use and request a copy of your report in advance. Similarly if you are getting a new insurance policy, you can contact the consumer reporting agencies that collect related information. If there is a mistake on your report, you have a right to correct it.

For a list of specialty consumer agencies, visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (PDF) or Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. If you need to file a complaint about a consumer reporting agency, contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission.

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The situation of health coverage in in FORT SMITH ARKANSAS

1. After five years of the Affordable Care Act, more than 16 million people have health coverage.

That's more people than the populations of New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago combined. This number includes parents who can finally afford to take their kids to the doctor, families who no longer risk losing their homes or savings because someone becomes ill, and young people who are now free to pursue their dreams without worrying about losing access to health care. 

With millions of people getting covered, the uninsured rate for non-elderly adults has dropped by 35% since October 2013. “The Affordable Care Act is working,” President Obama said after hearing the news that millions of Americans had signed up and gotten covered. “And I'll tell you, everywhere I go around the country, I'm meeting inpiduals who come up and thank me. How passionate they are about the difference it's made in their lives, it really reminds me why we do all of this." 


2. Medicaid is helping millions.

The Affordable Care Act allows states to expand eligibility for Medicaid, and 28 states and the District of Columbia have done so. Across all 50 states, there are 11.2 million additional Americans enrolled in Medicaid compared to a baseline period in the fall of 2013.

While not every state expanded Medicaid, those that did are seeing especially strong coverage gains. In Medicaid expansion states, the uninsured rate among families with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty line declined by 13 percentage points, nearly double the decline in non-expansion states.


3. Those with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied health insurance.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies could deny you coverage or charge you more because of a health problem that you had prior to applying for insurance. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies can’t refuse to cover you just because you have a pre-existing condition and they can’t close you out of coverage by charging you more than someone who doesn’t have a pre-existing condition.

This key provision means that up to 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions are no longer at risk of being denied coverage. This includes the parents of over 17.6 million children with pre-existing conditions who no longer have to live with that worry. 


4. The uninsured rate for young Americans is at its lowest point since at least 1997.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate for young Americans has declined by more than 40 percent over the past five years. Since 2010, more than 5 million young adults have gained coverage.  This includes 2.3 million young adults who have gained coverage by being able to stay on their parent's health plan. Under the Affordable Care Act, young adults can stay on their parent’s coverage until age 26. With all that can happens in a young person's life, this provision helps ensure that those who are just starting out in college and work careers can plan with the assurance that they have access to quality and affordable coverage. 


5. Americans no longer have lifetime and annual limits on their coverage.

The Affordable Care Act has lifted the lifetime health benefit caps for 105 million Americans. Previously, many plans set a lifetime limit on how much they would spend for your covered benefits during the entire time you were enrolled in their plan. If you went over, you’d be paying out of pocket. Annual limits also constrained families and inpiduals by restricting how much they could receive per year. That's not how it should be. That’s why the Affordable Care Act prohibits health plans from putting annual or lifetime dollar limits on most benefits. 


These are just five of the core ways in which the Affordable Care Act has helped Americans get quality, affordable health care. See for yourself: Click here to meet inpiduals who have benefited from health care, read their stories, and then pass them on so others can see what getting covered -- and staying covered -- means. 

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