Medicaid work requirements put nearly 13K Arkansas beneficiaries at risk of losing coverage

Since CMS approved Medicaid work requirements in March, some Arkansas Medicaid beneficiaries have been required to work 80 hours each month or report exemption status online to maintain benefits, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Work requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries between the ages of 30 and 49 took effect for an initial group of members June 1 and will be rolled out within that subgroup through September. Beneficiaries between the ages of 19 and 29 will face work requirements in 2019 unless they can prove exemption status.

Under the new requirements, enrollees who don't work 80 hours a month or participate in other qualifying activities for any three months are at risk of losing Medicaid coverage. KFF analyzed how the work requirements affected beneficiaries in July based off data released from the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Only 2 percent of the 43,794 beneficiaries who were subject to the new rules met the work and reporting requirements. Most beneficiaries, 69 percent, were exempt from the regulation, as they had already been working at least 80 hours per month or met an exemption requirement. Overall, 29 percent — or 12,722 — are at risk of losing coverage if they don't report 80 hours of work or qualifying activities within any three months.

"Looking ahead to next set of data to be released from the state for August 2018, the key question will be how many enrollees will not have met the new requirements for three months and therefore will be subject to a loss of coverage and a coverage lock-out," according to KFF.

In June, a federal judge blocked Kentucky's Medicaid work requirements because the policy's architects did not prove the measures "would in fact help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid."

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