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The Arkansas Department of Human Sevices announced Monday it has launched the website on which Arkansas Works beneficiaries must prove compliance with the state's new Medicaid work requirement rules approved by the Trump administration in March.
Arkansas Works, the state's version of Medicaid expansion, provides health insurance to around 280,000 low-income adults between the ages of 19 and 64. The program is credited with Arkansas's uninsured rate declining by 50 percent from 2013 to 2016.
The new work rule requires beneficiaries to work, volunteer or attend school or job training for at least 80 hours each month unless they meet one of several exemptions. In 2018, the requirement will apply only to beneficiaries ages 30-49; those ages 19-29 will become subject to the requirement in 2019. (Those in the 50-64 age group will not be subject to the requirement.) Exemptions include chronic illness, caring for a dependent child or incapacitated person, enrollment in a drug or alcohol abuse treatment program and other categories. However, beneficiaries eligible for an exemption must still create an online account through DHS and report that information to the agency.
DHS said Monday that people can create an account and begin reporting exemptions now, though the requirement itself won't kick in until June 1. The agency is mailing a letter to Arkansas Works beneficiaries this week. It's also distributing a video online with step-by-step instructions for how to use the new portal and provides a customer service number for beneficiaries (1-855-372-1084).
"Remember, even if you think you’re exempt from the work requirement, you must still create and link your online account," DHS spokesperson Marci Manley says in the video.
The majority of individuals in the age 30-49 group will qualify for an exemption, a spokesperson for the agency said in March. The agency’s data indicates about 60,000 of those beneficiaries will be exempt and about 39,000 may be subject to the work requirement. Most of those 39,000 are likely already working: National studies have found the majority of Medicaid expansion beneficiaries work full-time or part-time.
This reporting is made possible in part by a yearlong fellowship sponsored by the Association of Health Care Journalists and supported by The Commonwealth Fund