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Wal-Mart to join Ark. health care program

Andrew Demillo, Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says it will join and help fund an Arkansas effort to cut health care costs by changing the way private insurers and Medicaid pay for medical services.

The world's largest retailer announced Thursday that it would participate in the state's payment improvement initiative, which is aimed at moving away from a fee-for-service model to one where insurers pay for "episodes" of care rather than each individual treatment.

The Bentonville-based retailer said its 57,000 employees in the state will participate in the plan. It also committed $670,000 to create an annual tracking report to evaluate the impact on the health reforms.

The state began rolling out the initiative in July. The state partnered with Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and QualChoice of Arkansas on the initiative.