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Governor Hutchinson Says Medicaid Cancellations In Arkansas To Resume

Hutchinson John Selig
Jacob Kauffman

The backlog of Medicaid and private option recipients has been eliminated, and the Department of Human Services again will begin sending out notices of termination letters to private option recipients deemed ineligible because of changes in income or because they did not respond to a request to verify their income.

However, two of the three private insurance companies, Blue Cross and Ambetter, have reached an agreement with DHS to continue to cover prescription costs in terminated cases for 30 days. Those two companies cover a large majority of private option recipients. The state’s other carrier, Qualchoice, is not part of that agreement.

Those were two of the takeaways from a letter sent by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to legislators, and from a press conference by Hutchinson on Wednesday.

The state is in the process of redetermining eligibility for about 600,000 Medicaid and private option cases between now and the end of September.

Recipients whose incomes appear to have changed are sent a letter saying they must verify their incomes within 10 days. That begins a process where nonrespondents’ benefits are terminated, with the ability to be reinstated within 90 days and all charges covered retroactively. So far, almost 49,000 recipients have received notices of termination or have been terminated.

Hutchinson said in the letter and in the press conference that the 10-day window was a standard set in previous administrations and that a significant percentage of respondents will not respond regardless of how long they are given.

According to Hutchinson and DHS Director John Selig, 300 DHS staff members have worked 2,200 overtime hours beginning last week to address the workload, and 35 vacant positions are being filled.

An agreement is being finalized with the Department of Workforce Services to use more than 100 Temporary Assistance to Needy Families recipients for part-time administrative work.

Staff has been added and reassigned, while the envelope sent to beneficiaries now includes a DHS logo with the words, “Important information about your benefits!” written in red ink in all caps. The previous envelope did not include that warning. Selig said the language of the letter now more clearly states that the recipient is in danger of losing their insurance.

Steve Brawner is a freelance journalist and contributor to Talk Business & Politics.
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