Laura Cartwright, a Special Education teacher at Folsom Elementary, has been chosen to serve on Arkansas’ first Medicaid Client Voice Council. The Council is scheduled to hold its first meeting in Little Rock on March 15th . 

Cartwright was one of over 70 individuals statewide who applied to serve on the Council, which will seek to amplify voices and increase feedback from the beneficiaries of Medicaid-funded programs. All applicants for the Council need to receive at least one Medicaid-funded service, or be a caregiver to a Medicaid program beneficiary.

Cartwright was chosen in part because she checks several boxes. In addition to teaching children with special needs (a population that often receives assistance by way of Medicaid programs), Cartwright is the parent of a disabled adult-child who is on Medicaid. She and her husband are the parents of seven boys, and several of their children were adopted and benefited from Medicaid assistance. They have traversed the Medicaid “world” since the terminal illness of their 3rd biological son in 1998, and they continue to interact with Medicaid as both foster and adoptive parents.

“I want to give voice to the struggles we have faced, but also the positive experiences we have had,” explains Cartwright. “My son’s unique disabilities has made getting some services hard which I feel I can advocate for positive change in those areas.”

Cartwright, who lives in Fayetteville, is one of three Council members selected from Area One, which includes northwest Arkansas (the others are from Mountain Home and Fort Smith).
“This council mirrors a similar, successful effort in Colorado,” says DHS Secretary Cindy Gillespie. “Clients in Colorado have been able to help shape statewide goals, suggest solutions for common problems, redirect agency focus and resources, and make programs more accessible and equitable. Those are some of the things we believe the Medicaid Client Voice Council can accomplish here in Arkansas as well.”

The Council will meet every other month, with the goal of improving the quality and delivery of
Medicaid services for all Arkansans by learning from the experiences and hearing the ideas of people like Cartwright. The term of all Council members is two years, and the Council plans to expand to 30 members next year.