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The governor of Arkansas wants to implement a work requirement for the state Medicaid program



Little Rock, Arkansas – Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the governor of Arkansas, declared on Wednesday that the state will request a waiver from the federal government in order to implement a work requirement for the Medicaid program.

Sanders declared that the submitted proposal would make it necessary for applicants for the Medicaid program ARHOME to work, attend school, or volunteer.

According to her, the program now has over 300,000 participants, and adding a work requirement will “immediately address workforce challenges” in Arkansas.

“Arkansas is still too far behind in making sure that able-bodied citizens are working and we’ve got to get more people off the sidelines and in the game,” the governor said at a press conference.

People would be put on a “clearer path from government dependency to financial independence,” according to Sanders if this were to be implemented.

Around 18,000 persons lost their coverage as a result of Arkansas becoming the first state to implement work requirements for the program in June 2018. Adults between the ages of 30 and 49 were expected to work 20 hours per week, participate in “community involvement” activities, or obtain an exemption.

The majority of those who had their Medicaid coverage in Arkansas revoked were able to get it back after a federal judge rejected the requirement in 2019 along with a similar effort in Kentucky.

According to Harvard University studies, those who lost their insurance suffered more financial insecurity, with about half of them having “serious problems paying off medical debt.”

Secretary of Human Services for Arkansas, Kristi Putnam, assisted Kentucky in implementing a work requirement for its Medicaid program.

The governor claimed that because those who don’t take part in the program resort to “fee-for-service” coverage, this requirement will be different from the 2018 job requirement.

“When able-bodied adults don’t work, volunteer, or go to school they aren’t just a burden on the taxpayer, they’re also being denied a chance to achieve independence from the welfare system,” Sanders said. “With today’s change, we can break that vicious cycle.”

Putnam announced that the state would publish a proposed adjustment to the Medicaid waiver on April 23 for 30 days of public discussion. On June 1, Arkansas intends to submit the amendment.

In January 2024, the proposed modification is anticipated to take effect.

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