Federal judge to hear arguments in challenge to Medicaid work requirements

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WASHINGTON – A federal judge will hear arguments later this week over Arkansas’ work requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries. 

Right now many people on the Arkansas Works plan are required to prove they’re working, volunteering, or in school or risk losing their health coverage. 

About 20,000 people have been kicked off their health plans for not complying. 

In a congressional hearing today one Democratic lawmaker grilled the Secretary of Health and Human Services on Arkansas’ policy.  

“Nearly 20,000 low-income people in Arkansas, sir, have lost their health care because of a work requirement that your agency approved. At the same time, the unemployment rate in Arkansas has barely budged. Is that a successful policy implementation?” says Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Massachusetts).

“So, at the request of the Arkansas government, we did approve a community engagement waiver program with them. The individuals who’ve fallen off that program, we do not have data yet as to why they fell off the program,” says Alex Azar / Secretary of Health and Human Services.

“Have we asked them? Have you asked them?” says Kennedy.

“Yes, we’re working with them. That’s part of the data gathering,” says Azar.

The Trump Administration’s budget proposal out this week suggests implementing similar work requirements nationwide for Medicaid as well as food stamps and federal housing.

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