SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — 53,553 Arkansans lost their Medicaid benefits in September because pandemic-era rules that prevented people from being dropped from Medicaid ended back in April.

In total, more than 427,000 Arkansans have been dropped from Medicaid in the past six months according to the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Camille Richoux, health policy director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, says nearly 150,000 children have been unenrolled from Medicaid coverage since the change in April.

“That number includes nearly 25,000 newborns and 116,000 of those children were from part of our kids first, which are the poorest kids in our state,” Richoux said.

She says the state needed more information to determine if they were still eligible. 

“People who have had their income incorrectly reported or people who didn’t receive renewal forms because it went to the wrong address,” Richoux said.

She also says their data shows people were unenrolled too fast and that many unenrolled kids and families are eligible for Medicaid.

She also says the organization would like to see those who lost their health coverage get it back until it can be confirmed that they aren’t eligible for the Medicaid program.

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families is one of the resources in Springdale and Little Rock that can help people who have lost their Medicaid coverage.

The Northwest Arkansas Council can also help.

“Our goal is that we can help shepherd that process or shepherd them through the process so that we’re still able to get coverage back this calendar year,” said Ryan Cork, executive director for the healthcare transformation division at the Northwest Arkansas Council.

Cork says without this coverage, former Medicaid recipients would have to pay out of pocket.

“That can lead to medical debt. That can upend any household when you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck. But even those with good savings, I mean, that could eat away at savings on a visit to the ER,” Cork said. 

If you received a letter in the mail explaining you were dropped from Medicaid coverage and think you’re still eligible for coverage, you have 30 calendar days from the date on that letter to contact DHS and request a fair hearing for your coverage.