Arkansas Kicks Another 4,000 Off Medicaid Rolls Because of Work Requirements

Thanks to a waiver from the Trump administration, thousands of people are losing health insurance.

Arkansas purged 18,000 recipients from its Medicaid program via work requirements.Andrew DeMillo/AP

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

For the second month in a row, over 4,000 Medicaid beneficiaries lost their health insurance after failing to meet work requirements for the program. The newest numbers, released Monday in a state report, come on the heels of a purge of 4,353 individuals in September, bringing the total number of people who have lost coverage to 8,462 in Arkansas. 

In June, Arkansas became the first state in the country to implement a work requirement for Medicaid recipients. The program, which requires non-exempt workers to log 80 hours of work or work-related activities a month in order to maintain coverage, quickly came under fire by health care advocates. In August, three advocacy groups, two of which were also involved in a lawsuit that got similar requirements thrown out in Kentucky, sued on behalf of three Arkansas Medicaid recipients in order to block the rule. 

The number of people subjected to the work requirement has nearly tripled since June. Nearly one-sixth of the Arkansas residents covered under the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid are now subject to the work requirements, which will go into full effect next year. According to the new law, beginning in January all enrollees ages 19-49 “must work or engage in specified educational, job training, or job search activities for at least 80 hours per month to remain covered,” unless otherwise exempted.  

Before the new policy, Arkansas had been held up as a case study in expanding coverage to previously uncovered residents. Under the Affordable Care Act, the number of residents in the state without health insurance fell to 7.9 precent in 2017, nearly half of the 18 percent rate from 2013.  But in September, over 15,000 recipients were de-enrolled, including the 4,353 that did not meet work requirements. Other reasons why people lost their insurance included failure to return requested information to the state and increase in household income.

Arkansas is one of four states that received federal approval to implement work requirements—a policy that the federal government prohibited when Barack Obama was president, but has changed since Donald Trump took office. Eight other states have applied for work requirement waivers that are still pending before the Trump administration. 

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate