LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – After months of waiting, some Arkansas Medicaid recipients could soon have to work for their coverage.
President Trump plans to allow states to add work requirements to their Medicaid programs for the first time.
His administration announced Friday it is preparing to release the guidelines.
The Natural State is only one of a handful that applied for this specific waiver back in the summer.
Medicaid recipients under 50 years old would be required to work, participate in job training or volunteer. There are some exemptions, including recipients who are disabled or caring for dependent children.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson has been fighting for this.
He announced Thursday the state’s work referral requirement under Arkansas Works resulted in more than 16,000 people accessing workforce services, with 4,000 of those getting new jobs.
“Not everybody shows up because it’s not mandatory,” he said. “It’s a success story, but it’s also a recognition that, ‘Wow, what a successful program this would be if it was a mandatory work requirement.'”
“We agree that we’ve made progress and so it’s not really necessary to move to making the work component a requirement,” said Marquita Little, the health policy director for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.
Little worries the work requirement would overwhelm the department of workforce services.
“State agency employees who are already stretched thin now having to provide additional services for more people that are not likely to have any better outcomes than what we already provide,” she said.
The state plans to create an online portal and install kiosks in county offices to combat the confusion, but Little still predicts some to lose coverage.
“We know that people tend to fall through the cracks the more complex the policy,” she said.
The governor has reiterated his confidence in the Trump administration approving the change, but there’s still no exact timeline.
Once the state would get approval, DHS has said it would take the agency 60 days to implement.