More than 7,000 fail to meet Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas

More than 7,000 fail to meet Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas
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More than 7,000 Arkansas residents failed to meet the state's new Medicaid work requirements in the first month since they took effect, according to a report released by the state.

The work requirement requires nonexempt beneficiaries to report how they are satisfying an 80-hour a month work requirement every month. The work requirement can be fulfilled by working, searching for a job, job training, and other activities. 

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In June, 7,464 did not meet those reporting requirements, while 445 people did. 

About 18,000 beneficiaries subject to the work requirement are exempt from reporting their activities to the state because they already meet the requirement through work, school, or other life situations. 

Those who don't meet the reporting requirement could lose their Medicaid coverage if they fail to report their activities for two more months. 

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson called the numbers “encouraging.”

"The first report is encouraging," Hutchinson said, according to the Associated Press.

"We are only two months in, and those on Arkansas Works are still learning the system. DHS has worked hard to make sure that everybody understands the requirements and how to comply."

Once fully implemented, the work requirement will apply to childless adults between the ages of 19 and 49 who gained coverage through ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion. Currently, the requirement only applies to those aged 30-49. It will expand to those 19 to 29 next year. 

Arkansas is the first state to implement Medicaid work requirements. The Trump administration has also approved requirements for New Hampshire, Indiana and Kentucky, but those states have not had the requirements take effect yet. 

A federal judge blocked Kentucky's requirement last month, ruling that the administration “never adequately considered whether Kentucky HEALTH would in fact help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid.”