LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) has closed 4,353 cases of Arkansas Works Medicaid coverage because those individuals did not report activities under the new work and community engagement requirement for three months. Another 43,655 Arkansas Works enrollees met the work requirement through work, reporting activities, or having a recognized exemption from reporting.
From April through August, DHS and its outreach partners conducted extensive outreach and education efforts that included sending more than 136,000 letters and emails; making more than 150,000 phone calls, dozens of social media posts, thousands of text messages, and even going door-to-door talking with beneficiaries who were required to report their activities to meet the work requirement. Staff at DHS also has conducted more than thirty webinars, trainings, and information sessions for stakeholders and advocacy groups and put thousands of educational postcards in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms.
In addition, DHS has created processes for those without computers or Internet access to get help reporting their activities, including calling their insurance carrier for help from a registered reporter who can enter activities and exemptions relayed by individuals over the phone. Every DHS county office across the state also has at least one computer available for reporting activities and staff on hand to assist those who need it.
“While many fully complied by taking advantage of work opportunities under the work requirement, there were some that either found work, moved onto other insurance, or moved out of state without notifying DHS,” said Governor Hutchinson. “Some simply chose not to comply. Those are the ones who will lose their Arkansas Works coverage for the remainder of 2018.
“Personal responsibility is important. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure those who qualify for the program keep their coverage, but it is equally important that we make sure those who no longer qualify are removed,” added the Governor. “Arkansas Works is not a fee for service program, which means taxpayers are paying health insurance premiums for all enrollees every month, averaging roughly $570 a month, per person. This work requirement not only provides Arkansans with an opportunity to gain employment and move up the economic ladder, but also allows the state to concentrate our limited resources on those who need it most.”
Resources have been and remain available to those Arkansas Works beneficiaries who need assistance in completing activities that meet the work and community engagement requirement. Those resources include:
- Free job services from the Department of Workforce Services
- Education cost assistance through the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, especially for high-demand career fields
- Volunteer opportunities in communities across Arkansas via the Volunteer AR website
- SNAP Employment & Training (E&T) programs in dozens of counties across the state
“We have heard success stories of individuals in Arkansas Works who accessed those resources,” said DHS Director Cindy Gillespie. “People are completing their GEDs and attending vocational training after connecting with SNAP E&T. They are receiving skills assessments after going to DWS, attending nursing school, and deciding where their career should take them. Those are the outcomes we hoped to see.”
The work and community engagement requirement is intended to increase people’s overall health, well-being, and economic self-sufficiency by promoting work, education, and community engagement activities. The hope is those activities will help people live healthier lives as they move up the economic ladder.
Individuals who lost coverage at the end of August did not meet the work requirement for three months. Those enrollees will be ineligible for coverage for the remainder of the calendar year through the Arkansas Works program. However, if their life circumstances change they may be eligible for a different Medicaid eligibility category, such as for pregnant women or disability.
“This work requirement provides an opportunity for both government and the citizenry,” said Arkansas Department of Workforce Services Director Daryl Bassett. “It mandates that government invest in its citizen’s capabilities in a manner that holds both parties accountable. It provides an opportunity for the worker to provide for themselves and their families in Arkansas’s rapidly changing economic environment. Yet, it encourages the state to think ‘outside of the box’ to provide new opportunities for these workers as those opportunities appear through our economic development initiatives, and that benefits both sides.”
For downloadable copies of the August 2018 Arkansas Works Work & Community Engagement Report, an Arkansas Works Fact Sheet, and the Medicaid Monthly Report, please visit this link.