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Campaign Aims To Educate Arkansas Works Beneficiaries About New Requirements

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.

The guidelines that went into effect at the start of this month require Medicaid beneficiaries to submit records of their work verification or exemptions online, making Arkansas one of the first states in the nation to implement such changes. However, Arkansas is ranked third lowest in the nation in terms of Internet access according to a study conducted by BroadbandNow, which poses an issue to several potential enrollees.

"Historically, eligibility for affordable coverage to the Medicaid program has never been attached to any kind of requirement to work or be employed," said Marquita Little, the health policy director for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. "Our biggest concern is that this new eligibility requirement will result in more Arkansans that are covered through [the] Arkansas Works program losing access to that health coverage.”

The purpose of these sessions, sponsored by the Department of Human Services, is to provide information to the public regarding changes to Arkansas Works and highlight avenues through which they can receive assistance.

"Any number of community resources have joined on board to make Internet access available aside from the DHS local county offices and the Department of Workforce Services locations," said Marci Manley, deputy director of communications for the DHS. "Ultimately, we are attempting to provide as much information as possible to as many community partners as possible to help people be successful."

"Reaching out and working with community agencies is critically important," said Little. "The most effective way to help people with navigating the health care system and enrollment and eligibility related issues is being able to provide them with some one-to-one, in-person assistance."

The DHS seeks to connect to community organizations through these sessions and reach out to those who would otherwise be unaware of the addition of work requirements. It is possible for beneficiaries to name a vetted representative to submit their work hours for them if they are unable to access online services.

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