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Posted: 2018-11-08 15:28:18

November 5, 2018; Arkansas Times

A controversial Arkansas Medicaid work requirement went into effect June 1st, with the stipulation from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that the state’s Department of Human Services (DHS) must commission an independent evaluation to measure if the policy is meeting its goals. Nonetheless, according to the Arkansas Times, the state has not even begun to search for an evaluator.

The Arkansas DHS claims the delay is the result of the failure of CMS to approve its evaluation plan. CMS sent DHS a letter November 1st, writes reporter Benjamin Hardy, stating that the proposed evaluation design “should be better articulated and strengthened.”

Arkansas is the only state thus far that has implemented a work requirement for Medicaid beneficiaries. Those between the ages of 19 and 49 who are not otherwise exempt (e.g., unable to work because of illness, disability, or parenting responsibilities) must verify engaging in 80 hours of work activities each month. If a beneficiary does not report his or her work activities—or an exemption—over a three-month period, they are dropped from the Medicaid program and cannot get health coverage for the remainder of the calendar year. In September and October, the Arkansas Times reports, 8,500 beneficiaries lost their coverage.

The majority of beneficiaries are exempt from the work requirements. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has been tracking the percentage of beneficiaries required to comply, along with rates of compliance. In the fourth month of implementation, CBPP data show 72 percent of beneficiaries were found by the state to be exempt, 3 percent filed claims for exemption, 2 percent fulfilled the work requirements and 23 percent failed to satisfy the reporting requirement.

In other words, more than 80 percent of Medicaid beneficiaries who the state thinks should be reporting their work to the state are not. But who is at fault here? Research shows that most

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