Changes to Arkansas Medicaid Could Affect Thousands

Fox 24

On Thursday, Arkansas Governor, Asa Hutchinson signed in law a bill to cut thousands of people from the Arkansas Works Medicaid program.

Governor Asa Hutchinson said, “Under federal law one of the core purposes of Medicaid is to help individuals achieve or attain independence.”

Arkansas Works currently provides health insurance to about  320,000 low income Arkansans.

After this week’s special session of Congress, changes could be on the way for those enrolled.

J.R. Davis, Governor Asa Hutchinson’s Communication Director said,  “It shows us that between 100 % and 138% at the federal poverty line, there are about 60,000. We are cutting out those individuals from 138 % to 100 %. “

Now, only those who fall at or below the federal poverty line will qualify for Arkansas Works the roughly 60,000 left over will be sent a different route.

Governor Hutchinson said,  “We will be moving about 60-thousand from the Medicaid portion to the support on the marketplace.”

A spokesman for the governor’s office said the move from Arkansas Works to the Healthcare Marketplace doesn’t mean they will be left in limbo.

Davis said,  “It’s important to note that those individuals can have the exact same access to healthcare and insurance they had before on Arkansas Works through the individual health marketplace.”

The new legislation will also impose a work requirement.

People who are healthy, younger than 50 and who don’t have dependent children, have to at least be seeking a path towards employment, if utilizing Arkansas Works.

“They either need to be holding a job, be in worker training, finish their education, complete community service or seek treatment to addictions to alcohol or drugs, ” said Governor Hutchinson.

The governor added, the new changes aren’t meant to be a punishment for Medicaid users. “The expectation of work is part of the social compact between those who receive services and the taxpayers who pay for them.”

In order for the law to be implemented in Arkansas, it now must be submitted for legislative approval on a federal level.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services would then have to approve the waiver requests, like the work requirements.
   
The governor’s office says if those changes are approved  it will take effect January 1st, 2018.
   

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