Nearly 17,000 people have lost Medicaid in Arkansas after they failed to meet the state’s new work requirements.
State data show that 4,655 people were dropped from Medicaid in November after they failed to report to the state whether they had worked or trained for work for at least 80 hours a month, for three months in a row. That brings the total number of people dropped from Medicaid to nearly 17,000 people because of rules that began in June, which imposed requirements to work, volunteer, or take classes as a condition of staying enrolled in the program.
People on Medicaid in Arkansas have to log their hours online, and if they fail to do so, they are taken out of the program and are not allowed to re-enroll until the following year. Arkansas officials announced last week that on Dec. 19 they will start letting people on Medicaid report their work requirements by phone, saying they wanted to see more people participate in the program.
The number of people who reported their hours in November was lower than the number of people who did not. The report from the state shows that in November, 1,428 people reported their hours and 8,426 people did not.
The requirements apply to adults who are not disabled and who qualify for government-funded Medicaid coverage because they make less than $17,000 a year. The work or “community engagement” programs have been encouraged by the Trump administration, and while a handful of states are planning similar measures, Arkansas is the only state that has enacted its program.
Under Obamacare, states were allowed to expand government-funded Medicaid coverage to people under the $17,000 a year threshold, regardless of other factors such as disability status or whether they are working. Medicaid otherwise covers pregnant women, people with disabilities, people in nursing homes, and children, all of whom members of the Trump administration and conservatives say should remain the focus of the program.
Though the work requirements contain multiple exemptions for people undergoing treatment for addiction and for caregivers, among other groups, critics say people will be unable to keep up with the reporting requirements and become uninsured. They have said that the programs are an attempt to throw people off Medicaid.