Advocates Call Arkansas Medicaid Work Requirement Punitive

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Verma said the work requirement "is about helping people rise out of poverty to achieve the American dream".

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved similar work requirements from Kentucky and Indiana.

Arkansas is the latest Republican-led state to win a CMS waiver to beef up requirements for participation in Medicaid.

Verma said her CMS is a "willing partner" with states and is trying to give them the flexibility to run the Medicaid program that works for them.

However, the state did not get approval to roll back the eligibility level for Medicaid beneficiaries.

A bill reauthorizing Arkansas' Medicaid expansion for another year has advanced on the same day the state won federal approval for its plan to impose a work requirement on thousands of people in the program.

The inevitable coverage gaps from Arkansas' work requirements and coverage lockouts will worsen quality of health for those who need it most. This year, only enrollees age 30 to 49 will be subject to the work mandate, which will be broadened to include 19- to 29-year-olds in 2019.

While not all of them are states that expanded Medicaid, eight other states have waivers for Medicaid work requirements pending; and at least nine other states are actively involved in conversations with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) about work requirements.

"It certainly makes it more palatable", said Republican Sen.

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Those able-bodied individuals will need to report 80 hours of work every month.

Those failing to demonstrate they meet the requirement for three months during the year will lose coverage for the rest of the year and will have to reapply the next year.

Critics say work requirements will only serve to make access to care more hard for those who need it most.

As a result of its Medicaid expansion, Arkansas covered 330,000 newly eligible adults by the end of 2016.

Little said her biggest concern in this revision is how it'll affect people who don't fully qualify for disability benefits.

The expansion program was created as an alternative to expanding traditional Medicaid under the federal health care law.

Several other states have requests for work requirements pending with the Trump administration. Arkansas officials sought to reduce eligibility, while still getting the same level of federal funding. Hutchinson said the state and CMS will continue to work on that piece.

The administration, however, is still reviewing a more controversial provision in the Arkansas waiver.

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