Arkansas Democrats Implore Governor Sanders Reinstate Coverage for Thousands of Arkansans Who Lost Healthcare for “Procedural Reasons”
LITTLE ROCK – Today, Democratic leaders in Arkansas criticized the state’s six-month Medicaid disenrollment process. Citing the numerous complaints from national oversight agencies and local Arkansas families, Democrats called the process “incompetent and cruel.” They also implored Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Republican lawmakers to restore coverage to the thousands of Arkansans in most need.
On Monday, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) announced that more than 427,000 Arkansas, including 147,000 children, had their healthcare coverage interrupted or terminated at some point during the past six months.
“The news here isn’t that people don’t need healthcare,” said Democratic Party of Arkansas Chair Grant Tennille. “The news here is that Sarah Sanders’s big government overreach is too incompetent and too cruel to even properly contact or communicate with Arkansas families.
“The vast majority of the individuals who lost coverage in this six-month process shared something in common, and it wasn’t that they weren’t eligible for Medicaid. It is because our state government failed to reach them. The DHS Secretary claimed that this process ensured that the program now ‘is serving only those who truly need Medicaid.’ That is a lie, and she knows it.”
“We have heard story after story of Arkansas families and their children being robbed of the stability of continued healthcare coverage,” said State Representative and House Minority Leader Tippi McCullough, District 74 (Little Rock). “We are already the highest need state, and our policy for the past six months has been to strip the very children in most need of healthcare. We must fix that broken system.
“Laws can be changed, and this one should be. How can you look at these numbers and not think that the system failed Arkansas families? “
Democratic demands to the Governor include:
- To keep open all Medicaid cases for those who the government failed to connect with. “We cannot know their eligibility, and we shouldn’t punish them or their children because of government incompetence,” said Tennille.
- To prevent automatic deductions in Social Security payments for seniors who relied on Medicaid to cover their Part B coverage had their coverage revoked.
- To equip DHS with the means to engage Arkansans to adequately determine their eligibility for Medicaid, such as Medicaid patient navigators.
- In the 2014 Fiscal Session, the Arkansas Legislature restricted DHS from using navigator program funding “for the purpose of advertisement, promotion, or other activities designed to promote or encourage enrollment in the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace or the Health Care Independence Program.” Additionally, the law prevented the Department of Human Services from applying for or accepting “any funds including without limitation federal funds” to assist Arkansans for coverage in either healthcare program.