More than 12K people in Arkansas have lost Medicaid coverage

More than 12K people in Arkansas have lost Medicaid coverage
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More than 12,000 Medicaid beneficiaries in Arkansas have lost coverage for not complying with the state’s work requirements, according to data released by the state on Thursday.

In the past month alone, 3,815 beneficiaries lost coverage for failing to meet the work requirements for three straight months.  

Arkansas began phasing in work requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries in August. In the three months the requirements have been in effect, 12,128 people were removed from Medicaid and are locked out until Jan. 1.

In addition, there are 6,002 people with two strikes against them who are at risk for losing coverage next month.

Arkansas became the first state ever to implement work requirements, after gaining approval from the Trump administration earlier this year.

Under the rules, which took effect in June, recipients must work, go to school, volunteer or search for jobs for at least 80 hours a month or be stripped of their coverage until the following year.

Arkansas exempts beneficiaries who are pregnant, medically frail, have a dependent child in the home, are caring for an incapacitated person or are already working. The work requirements only apply to low-income childless adults who gained coverage through ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion.

Beneficiaries subject to the requirement must file reports with the state each month detailing how they are meeting it. Failing to do so counts as noncompliance, meaning people who may be working 80 hours a month can still get kicked off the program if they don't file monthly reports.

State officials and the Trump administration say work requirements are a pathway out of poverty, and provide an incentive for people to work. Yet the data show almost all of the people who lose coverage are not reporting any work activities.

Only 1,525 people met the requirements in the past month. Of those individuals, 968 said they were already eligible because they were meeting the work requirements for food stamps, which satisfies the Medicaid mandate.

Critics allege those numbers show that the rules aren't promoting work, and are merely kicking people off Medicaid and saving the state money.