Asa Hutchinson and CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced Monday the state is the third to have a Medicaid waiver with a work requirement approved. "By the end of this year, you're talking about a couple of dozen states probably that are going to have Medicaid work requirements approved and moving towards being implemented". The work requirement will become effective in June. But unlike IN and Kentucky, the other states that have been granted similar waivers this year, Arkansas plans to discipline Medicaid recipients who fail to meet the requirements by locking them out of the system for a period of time - the first time a "lockout period" for failure to work, train or volunteer will be deployed IN the Medicaid system. The work requirement exempts many people, such as those with opioid addiction and parents with dependent children.
The administration, however, is still reviewing a more controversial provision in the Arkansas waiver.
Arkansas follows IN and Kentucky this year IN winning CMS' approval for the work requirement.
Mr. Hutchinson's push to cap the Medicaid expansion at the federal poverty level would put another major spin on Mr. Obama's initial plan.
While 18 have refused to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, saying it would bust their budgets, states like Arkansas found creative ways to make expansion more palatable for state Republicans.
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The expansion program was created as an alternative to expanding traditional Medicaid under the federal health care law. Affected enrollees must report they've performed 80 hours of work or community engagement per month.
Critics say work requirements will only serve to make access to care more hard for those who need it most. If a person fails to meet the requirements for three months, he or she will lose coverage for the rest of that calendar year. Those gains will nearly certainly slide back down, according to Judith Solomon, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. For the past four years, Arkansas Medicaid covered everyone with incomes under 138% of the poverty level, or about $16,750. Other stated concerns have been that people will be discouraged from signing up.
Instead of bloating its traditional program, Arkansas used the federal expansion money to place 285,000 residents in private coverage.
Nine other states have requests pending with CMS to enact a Medicaid work requirement.
Arkansas officials said they need the work requirement because without it many enrollees won't seek out work or job training. Hutchinson said the state and CMS will continue to work on that piece.