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Arkansas Works enrollees will have a new option for reporting on their compliance with the program’s work requirement over the phone starting a week from today, the state Department of Human Services announced.

The department said in a news release that it will also launch a “paid advertising campaign” aimed at increasing compliance with the requirement, which has caused more than 12,200 Arkansans to lose their coverage since the state began phasing it in in June.

To meet the requirement, Arkansas Works enrollees must spend 80 hours a month on work or other approved activities and report their hours through a state website.

The requirement to use the website has drawn criticism from advocates for the poor, who note many enrollees lack access to the Internet and are not comfortable using computers.

Under the new option, enrollees will be able to report their hours by calling a state helpline at (855) 372-1084.

“In addition, staff working the helpline will start proactively reaching out to individuals who have logged some – but not enough – work and community engagement activities to meet the 80 hours a month requirement,” the department said in the release. “Staff will encourage those enrollees to continue to report their hours and refer them to helpful services.”

The helpline will be available from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week starting Dec. 19.

Currently enrollees can report on their hours by calling the insurance company responsible for their Arkansas Works plan, but that service is only available “during regular business hours” on weekdays and on some Saturdays, “depending on the time of year and carrier,” the department said in the release.

Enrollees can also designate a “registered reporter” to report their hours for them through the website,

“We are six months into this new Medicaid demonstration program, but wanted take the time now to access what areas we need to shore up or improve,” Human Services Department Director Cindy Gillespie said in the news release. “Though enrollees have had the ability to report by phone through carriers, friends, and registered reporters, we felt it was important to expand that option before we roll the next group into the work and community engagement requirement.”

The advertising campaign “will use both traditional and social media outlets, online sites, and local transportation organizations to reach enrollees,” the department said in the release.

The department said it will also work with colleges and universities to make sure “students know their school hours count as activities toward meeting the requirement.”

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  • drs01
    December 12, 2018 at 2:08 p.m.

    Arkansas has made it easier for able bodied persons to get discounted healthcare insurance. What's next - handicapped license plates, and medical marijuana cards for anyone who asks?

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    December 12, 2018 at 2:46 p.m.

    And why not?
    It's exactly how the elite do it as you probably well know.
    You are a liar and in grave danger of your moral health to say these things.
    Where does your hate for your fellow come from?> Is it misplaced? Less than 50k on security and over 75% of them are not males.
    Tell us ho you hate and why you hate them, then I can assuredly tell you, they are not in this article!

  • 0boxerssuddenlinknet
    December 12, 2018 at 3:10 p.m.

    Odd that the medicaid recipients can get to their local DHS office to apply for medicaid which means bringing in at least a years bank statement, photo ID, etc but can't manage to get a record of their 80 hours of work per MONTH to the same organization. please tell me that we the taxpayer will not also be giving them a free phone to call in their hours.

  • rgh48
    December 12, 2018 at 4:44 p.m.

    I'm glad to see the State take the measures to give the people affected every opportunity to comply. At some point the objections will have all been addressed and this will become just the way it is if you want the assistance. Course you could do away with all this and just go to work.

  • titleist10
    December 12, 2018 at 5:31 p.m.

    If they are physically able to work they should be required to find employment also stop assistance for these young girls having babies an don’t even know who the fathers ste

  • titleist10
    December 12, 2018 at 5:34 p.m.

    If they are physically able to work they should be required to find employment also stop assistance for these young girls having babies an don’t even know who the fathers are