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More than 4,300 people whose Arkansas Works health coverage was terminated Sept. 1 for failing to comply with the work requirement remained without coverage as of Sunday, the state Department of Human Services reported Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the department reported that an additional 5,076 had been out of compliance for two months and will lose coverage at the end of this month unless they report their work hours or an exemption for September.

During a news conference, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said that the number who have lost coverage “is higher than we would prefer.” But he said that some of them may have found other coverage or moved out of the state, while others “simply don’t want to be a part of the workforce.”

Arkansas was the first state to implement a Medicaid work requirement after the Trump administration said it would allow states to require participants to work to keep coverage. Kentucky was the first state to win approval for a work requirement, but a federal judge blocked the state from enforcing it. A similar challenge over Arkansas' requirement is pending before the same judge.

With the state paying an average of about $570 a month in premiums and other payments to insurance companies for each enrollee, the reduction in enrollment is saving the state and federal government tens of millions of dollars a month, he noted.

“I think it would be the common sense judgment of the people of Arkansas that we should not continue to pay” that cost, Hutchinson said.

To meet the requirement, enrollees must spend 80 hours a month on work or other approved activities unless they qualify for an exemption. Those who fail to comply for three months during a year are moved off the program and barred from reenrolling for the rest of the year.

Democrats and low-income advocates have said the state's requirement that the hours worked be reported through a website penalizes people without access to the Internet.

"It's either stunningly bad, poorly designed, or it's meant to kick people off," Jared Henderson, a Democrat challenging Hutchinson in the November election, said earlier Wednesday.

Hutchinson and state officials defended the online approach, saying that beneficiaries can also call one of 200 "registered reporters" at insurance carriers or other groups that can log in and report for them. The Department of Human Services said beneficiaries can also use computers at its county offices around the state.

"We always want to provide other avenues, and we've done that in this case," Hutchinson said.

Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Comments

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  • Foghorn
    September 12, 2018 at 4:42 p.m.

    This article conveniently fails to mention that the DHS application designed for people to report work, is never operational. It also doesn’t mention how many of those who lost coverage are homeless and have little means of reporting. This story has garnered national attention and AR does not look good. No surprise there.

  • SaveOurCountry
    September 12, 2018 at 4:45 p.m.

    Arkansas is getting much deserved National attention for being in the forefront of reducing waste and helping get undeserving people off of Medicaid. We can only hope this is just the start. I would guess at least 50% of the people on Medicaid or disability do not deserve it and if it continues to grow unchecked it will eventually bankrupt our economy. When it does they will be the first ones to complain. Way to go Governor. Kudos to you.

  • Foghorn
    September 12, 2018 at 4:53 p.m.

    So if they’re still in AR and require medical care, they’ll go to the emergency room of a hospital. That only drives UP costs. Funny how the hateful rarely grasp economics.

  • GeneralMac
    September 12, 2018 at 5:13 p.m.

    DB.......what is "hateful" about expecting ...YOUNG....ABLE BODIED.....people to make a minimal effort to help themselves if they want tax payer " freebies" ?

  • Foghorn
    September 12, 2018 at 5:48 p.m.

    It’s hateful to demand someone do something and then deny them the ability to do it. The DHS website is chronically offline and they have no intention of addressing the issue. It’s all designed to kick off the most vulnerable like the homeless and mentally impaired.

  • LR1955
    September 12, 2018 at 6:44 p.m.

    Hey ArDemGaz, I hope tomorrow’s full detail version has the link to the DHS where people go & fill out their work history. Im pretty good at computers & Internet stuff and I went to the DHS website and couldn’t find where to sign up much less enter work history. You’d think it would be a big tab or something easy to find, but it’s not.

  • crmarsh
    September 12, 2018 at 6:53 p.m.

    My son posted his works hours for the last two months as required and they still dropped him??? Can't figure out why.

  • NoUserName
    September 12, 2018 at 6:57 p.m.

    "they’ll go to the emergency room of a hospital. "
    .
    I assume you mean primary care doctor. Which is what is happening anyway. Something, by the way, the ACA was supposed to change in an effort to reduce costs. As for the topic, if you're able bodied and supporting NOBODY, hell yes you should have to DO something for free healthcare. If DHS has a problem, then that SHOULD absolutely be addressed.

  • Razorback86
    September 12, 2018 at 8:22 p.m.

    Lead by example stop buying 80,000 dollar black Chevy Suburban’s and driving three to four of them into every town when visiting we should help everyone we can it’s human nature supply those who need it healthcare! So much money is just wasted in government if they don’t use it on healthcare it will be used on other stuff. Have a heart and think about these kids! You take their grocery money now their healthcare seems like they are trying to get rid of the poor people just my opnion. I do have a job I do pay do mine and my families healthcare but believe families should have healthcare regardless of their income.
    Just the right thing to do.

  • 0boxerssuddenlinknet
    September 12, 2018 at 8:38 p.m.

    only 80 hours a month ? good grief how can anybody be that freakin lazy ? can you sit at a ticket counter and sell tickets at a movie theater? can you mow lawns ? wash dishes ? work in a laundry ? flip burgers ? drive a taxi ? bale hay, help build fence ? work in a car wash ? I guess some people just don't want health insurance enough to get off of their tails. Of course the disabled are excluded from this requirement.

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