Arkansas Healthcare

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas’s newly-implemented work requirement for recipients of the state’s Medicaid expansion program is the subject of a new federal lawsuit seeking to remove the requirement.

The lawsuit was filed by the National Health Law Program, Legal Aid of Arkansas, and the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of three recipients of the state’s expanded Medicaid program, known as Arkansas Works. The suit, filed in United States District Court for the District of Columbia, names U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma as plaintiffs.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

53 years after the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, some advocates in Arkansas say proposed budget cuts are making the future of the programs unsure. 

Medicare, a national health insurance program for the elderly and those with disabilities, and Medicaid, a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for low-income people, are utilized by some 120 million Americans currently.

The programs have come to national prominence with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which offers expanded Medicaid coverage to about 12 million Americans.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson with Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services Director Seema Verma holding a signed and approved waiver for Arkansas's Medicaid program on May 30, 2018.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

More than a quarter of the 27,000 Arkansans subject to a new work requirement in order to keep Medicaid coverage did not satisfy the state’s new reporting rules, according to state officials. The work requirement is the first in the nation to be rolled out, with the approval from the Trump administration earlier this year.

Dr. Joe Thompson
Arkansas Center for Health Improvement

It's likely that thousands of Medicaid enrollees in Arkansas did not meet a deadline to report whether they are fulfilling new work requirements being implemented by the state. 

The Arkansas Division of Human Services told KUAR on Thursday that, as of June 29, only 370 of the 8,534 enrollees were in compliance. Enrollees had until Thursday, July 5, to log in to the state website and report their activities.

Arkansas Works Governor Asa Hutchinson Work Requirement
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Unless there has been a rush of people this week who successfully logged on to a state website before a 9 p.m. deadline Thursday, thousands of Arkansas Works enrollees will be out of compliance with a newly-enacted work requirement.

Marci Manley, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, says that of the 8,534 people who needed to check in, as of June 29, only 370 had reported that they were in compliance. If the enrollees fail to report their information for three months over a 12-month period, she says they will lose their healthcare coverage.

Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Amidst more revelations of problems tied to Arkansas’s nascent medical marijuana program, the architect of the state’s voter-approved amendment is calling for commissioners to abandon their process of scoring cultivation applications.

Attorney David Couch says the merit-based scoring system has been plagued with allegations that have rocked public confidence in the process.

Marquita Little with Arkansas Advocates for Children says she is concerned about how work requirements will impact beneficiaries.
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media

As work requirements are being implemented for Arkansas's Medicaid expansion program, training sessions are being launched to let recipients and trained assistants know how to meet the new guidelines. One session took place Tuesday at the Our House shelter in Little Rock where more than a dozen social workers sat in on the presentation.

Department of Veterans Affairs

The details surrounding the discovery of an impaired doctor at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks were made public Monday at a press conference .

At least one death appears to have resulted from the physician's behavior and thousands of patients might be at risk.

Three members of Arkansas's congressional delegation stood beside regional and federal officials from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Oaklawn Racing & Gaming

Arkansas is one of just seven states that does not spend money to support gambling addiction treatment.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson with Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services Director Seema Verma holding a signed and approved waiver for Arkansas's Medicaid program on May 30, 2018.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas is one of just a few states that is choosing to implement work-related requirements, in order for people to keep getting health insurance through Medicaid. The state also stands out for requiring that the verification process be done online.

That could mean trouble for low-income beneficiaries, who happen to live in a state with some of the worst access to the internet in the nation. The rollout of the new requirements begins June 1st.

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