Medicaid rules continue to punish poor and homeless in Arkansas. Lawsuit coming | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Medicaid rules continue to punish poor and homeless in Arkansas. Lawsuit coming

Posted By on Thu, Aug 9, 2018 at 8:53 AM

click to enlarge NO WIFI IN HOMELESS CAMPS: At least not as a rule. But if a homeless person hopes to get Medicaid coverage, he or she has to find some and a computer or smart phone to hook up.
  • NO WIFI IN HOMELESS CAMPS: At least not as a rule. But if a homeless person hopes to get Medicaid coverage, he or she has to find some and a computer or smart phone to hook up.

If you believe the new work rule for Medicaid eligibility was put in place to reduce the number of people helped with health coverage — as I do — then you have to admit it's working like a charm.  No wonder a lawsuit was filed and won in Kentucky over a similar work rule and a lawsuit is expected against the Arkansas rule as early as today by the group that challenged the Kentucky law.  Details to come.

Don't miss Benji Hary's report in this week's Times on the 60,000 dropped from Medicaid coverage in Arkansas the last 18 months.

The state is shedding beneficiaries at a faster rate than any other state that chose to expand Medicaid, according to data from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Arkansas saw a 6 percent decline in its overall Medicaid enrollment between January 2017 and May 2018. The shrinking Arkansas Works program evidently accounted for most of the drop. (The CMS data combines the expansion population and the larger, more expensive "traditional" Medicaid population, which includes children on ARKids, elderly people, disabled people and other groups.) Only three non-expansion states — Texas, Idaho and Tennessee — saw a larger percentage decrease in Medicaid overall.

Arkansas has lately come under national scrutiny for its new work requirement for some Arkansas Works enrollees, with many health researchers and advocates warning the policy could lead to thousands losing coverage. Yet little attention has been paid to the steady monthly reduction in Medicaid enrollment figures predating the work requirement, which began in June. 
Also on the Medicaid front:

Here's a report from today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
on the burden on the homeless to report on their efforts to find work or do sufficient volunteer service to qualify for Medicaid. Few homeless have smartphones and computers to do the required online reporting — the only way for the poor in Arkansas to connect with the state.

At Wednesday's monthly meeting of the Arkansas Homeless Coalition, advocates said a difficult-to-maneuver filing system for good-cause exemptions related to homelessness, slow responses to phone calls for help and a website that isn't always functional made the reporting process challenging.
These headaches abound for the marginally employed with shelter, too.

Come September, some 5,000 to 7,000 Medicaid recipients are likely to be dropped from the rolls for failing to make work reports for three months. We'll never know how many truly failed the requirement or fell through the cracks for inability to report or missed communications with the state agency, already a large problem.

The state isn't likely to reconsider its draconian policy, absent legal action.

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