Panel Discussion

Joe Thompson, Surgeon General for the State of Arkansas

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. Nationally, as Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity, he is leading a strategic partnership with PolicyLink that serves as the linchpin of RWJF’s strategy to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity by 2015.

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, at the forefront of Arkansas’s nation-leading efforts against childhood obesity 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.


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 AcademyHealth and on the Health Care Financing and Organization National Advisory Panel. 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, DC, and the Assistant Vice President and Director of Research at the National Committee for Quality Assurance in Washington, DC. 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.

Cynthia Crone,  MNSc, APN

Cynthia (Cindy) Crone currently serves as Insurance Deputy Commissioner of Arkansas Health Connector, a division of the Arkansas Insurance Department (AID). A licensed and certified nurse practitioner, Cindy is an experienced program director with more than thirty years experience advocating collaborative, effective solutions to public health issues affecting vulnerable populations. She has served as clinician, educator, consultant, and administrator and has been recognized locally and nationally for leadership in innovative, effective program development and sustainability. In 2001, she was selected by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as one of twenty nurses from across the nation to participate in their Executive Nurse Fellowship Program designed to help prepare leaders to change the future health care system. In 2004 she received the Jim Wright Award for vulnerable populations – the top award given by the National Association of Public Hospitals.


Prior to her appointment as Insurance Deputy Commissioner of Arkansas Health Connector, she served in various roles at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) (1987 – 2010) including Director of Family Treatment Consultation at UAMS Partners for Inclusive Communities (2007 – 2010), founding executive director of UAMS Arkansas CARES, a nationally recognized family treatment program for pregnant and parenting addicted women and their children and families (1992 – 2006), and perinatal outreach nurse with the UAMS Arkansas High Risk Pregnancy Program (1987 – 1991). Before moving to UAMS, she served as pediatric nurse practitioner and maternal‐child nurse consultant and administrator with the Arkansas Department of Health (1978 ‐ 1986). Other accomplishments include securing ~$38 million in competitive grant funding and providing leadership for professional and civic organizations, including serving as President of the Arkansas Nurses Association and Altrusa International Inc., of Little Rock. She is also active in service leadership through her church. Cindy has been married to Charles Crone for thirty seven years. They have one adult son, Andrew.


Andrew Allison, PhD

Andrew Allison, PhD, joined the Arkansas Department of Human Services as the Arkansas Medicaid director in December 2011. Prior to his post in Arkansas, he served as the director of the Division of Health Care Finance within the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and as the executive director of the Kansas Health Policy Authority with responsibility for Kansas’ Medicaid program, CHIP, the Kansas state employee health plan, and the state’s growing health care and health insurance databases. He is a founding board member of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, and currently serves as its president. He spent six years at the Kansas Health Institute as a researcher, focusing on health care and health insurance policy in Kansas. He worked as a Medicaid budget analyst at the Office of Management and Budget in Washington, D.C., from 1992-95, providing staff analysis of health reform legislation and reviewing statewide Medicaid waiver applications. He has a bachelor's degree in history from Ouachita Baptist University, a master's degree in public policy from Duke University, and a doctorate in economics from Vanderbilt University.