Hutchinson Quietly Backpedals On His Faulty Medicaid Work Requirement

Asa’s Work Requirement Just Didn’t Work

After months of using a flawed online-only system for people to verify their work history in order to keep their Medicaid coverage, Gov. Asa Hutchinson is finally taking a small step to fix the crisis his administration has created. It was reported that the Department of Human Services will allow people to be verified for the work requirement over the telephone. Previously it was limited to a website that was only accessible during certain hours of the day. This is a burden on many Arkansans, particularly in rural areas. Arkansas ranks 48th in in the country in access to the internet. As a result of this initial online-online approach, more than 12,000 Arkansans have lost their health insurance. That number is expected to grow.

“Arkansas’s healthcare system ought to be about making sure that people who need to go to the doctor can go to the doctor to get care,” said Democratic Party of Arkansas Chairman Michael John Gray. “The decision by DHS is a step in the right direction. I would say to the governor, ‘keep going.’ It doesn’t go far enough in making sure that people who are eligible for Medicaid aren’t getting kicked off arbitrarily. The governor needs to do more so people aren’t losing their health insurance because of a self-imposed, bureaucratic work requirement. Without improvement our rural hospitals will suffer, our economy will take a dramatic hit, and tens of thousands of hard working Arkansans could lose their health insurance.”

Arkansas has yet to receive approval from the federal government and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for its evaluation model on how it measures the progress and goals of the state’s work requirement. Since its implementation 12,277 Arkansans have been kicked off of their Medicaid plans for failing to utilize an online-only reporting requirement. Arkansas has among the worst rates of access to the internet in the country.