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, access.arkansas.gov.
“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.”