Arkansans who receive health insurance through the state's Medicaid expansion program and must comply with a work requirement now have a new resource to get help reporting their hours of work.
The Central Arkansas Library System is offering assistance with account setup and navigating the online reporting system at each of its 14 branches in Pulaski and Perry counties.
CALS Executive Director Nate Coulter said one staffer at each branch has received training from the state Department of Human Services, which oversees the Arkansas Works program, on how to navigate the system.
"We ought to be the front line for helping people [comply] if they've satisfied the work requirement," Coulter said. "Last month, there were over 13,000 people that were determined to be not eligible, but only a handful of them came to the portal or submitted any information."
Under a requirement approved last June, certain people receiving health insurance under the Arkansas Works program must report 80 hours of work or work-related activity per month. If recipients do not report work hours for any three months in a calendar year, they lose coverage and cannot reapply until the next year.
Speaking with reporters at the Capitol Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the partnership would make it easier to comply with the requirement.
"I believe it will make a real difference for those that are on Arkansas Works and want to continue their coverage, and our objective in Arkansas Works is to make sure that everybody who's entitled to coverage has coverage. We want them to have that," Hutchinson said. "We also want them, if they're in need of training, if they're in need of other services, that we can identify and we can support them."
Since the work requirement's rollout in June 2018, roughly 18.000 people have lost health insurance coverage under Arkansas works as a result of non-compliance. Hutchinson said 11,000 recipients of the program have subsequently found work.
The partnership with CALS is the second effort in recent months to simplify the reporting process for Arkansas Works recipients. The Department of Human Services in December began allowing recipients to report their hours of work by phone.
Opponents of the program had criticized the previous online-only reporting system, citing spotty rural internet access in the state and difficulty using the online portal.
A federal judge is expected to rule before the end of March on whether Arkansas's work requirement for Medicaid expansion recipients should be allowed to continue.