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More than 427,000 Arkansans come off Medicaid rolls after six-month ‘unwinding’ process

The office of the Arkansas Department of Human Service in Little Rock.
The office of the Arkansas Department of Human Services in Little Rock.

From Talk Business & Politics:

Arkansas’ Medicaid rolls fell by more than 53,000 in September, the final month for redetermination for eligibility, according to new figures released by the state Department of Human Services on Monday (Oct. 9).

In September, more than 45,000 cases were renewed after eligibility was confirmed, DHS said.

Arkansas is unwinding, or redetermining, Medicaid eligibility for patients as part of the ending of the federal COVID-19 pandemic. There was a continuous enrollment requirement during the crisis that prevented DHS from removing most ineligible individuals from Medicaid. State law requires the unwinding process be completed in six months. September was the sixth month.

In its final month of redetermination, DHS officials said 53,553 Arkansans had their Medicaid cases closed – a number that includes those added to the rolls during the public health emergency and regular renewals.

Over the six-month period for disenrollment outlined in Arkansas law, more than 427,000 Arkansans were removed from the Medicaid rolls due to ineligibility, lack of paperwork, or because the client requested removal. At its peak, more than 1.2 million citizens were enrolled in Arkansas Medicaid program.

“Medicaid resources should go to Arkansans who qualify for them, and not for those who are ineligible,” DHS Secretary Kristi Putnam said. “I’m proud of the work that staff across our entire agency performed over the last six months to ensure that our program is serving only those who truly need Medicaid. And, I’m excited to finally put the pandemic and the special rules that had been in place behind us so we can focus on serving Arkansans under normal eligibility operations going forward.”

Several states have been ordered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to pause their redeterminations or reinstate coverage for some beneficiaries because of issues with their eligibility system processes. Arkansas was not one of those states.

The top reasons for closures include disenrollments based on:

  • Failing to send back required eligibility information;
  • Failing to return requested information;
  • Household income exceeding Medicaid limitations;
  • Not meeting requirements for programs; and
  • Client-requested closures.

If beneficiaries believe their case was closed in error, they can visit ar.gov/cover for information about requesting to have their coverage reinstated if they are still eligible, reapplying, or appealing the determination.

Roby Brock is the Editor-in-Chief and Host of Talk Business & Politics.