LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT) - The Democratic nominee for Arkansas governor said Wednesday that he believes that a new work requirement for Medicaid, in particular, requiring reporting to be done by Internet was ill-conceived.
Jared Henderson hosted a press conference Wednesday with several doctors, criticizing the policy.
According to the Associated Press, at least 4,300 people in the state who are on the state’s expanded Medicaid rolls lost coverage this month due to not complying with the work requirement.
The requirement calls for people who receive expanded Medicaid to report at least 80 hours of work each month for three months in a year, the AP reported.
Henderson, who is facing Hutchinson and Libertarian candidate Mark West of Batesville on Nov. 6, said he thought the Internet requirement was unfair.
“My work throughout rural communities in Arkansas has provided the insight into just how poorly planned Governor Hutchinson’s Medicaid internet requirement really is. We are a state that ranks 49th in internet connectivity, and the idea that online would be the only avenue for individuals to report means that this is either simply bad policy or that it is an intentional effort to kick people off of Medicaid,” Henderson said in a statement to Region 8 News.
During a press conference Wednesday, Gov. Hutchinson countered that the Arkansas Department of Human Services and other groups sent out 136,000 letters and emails, made 150,000 phone calls, posted information on social media, went door to door and sent text messages to recipients reminding them of the changes.
“While many fully complied by taking advantage of work opportunities under the work requirement, there were some that either found work, moved onto other insurance or moved out of state without notifying DHS. Some simply chose not to comply. Those are the ones who will lose their Arkansas Works coverage for the remainder of 2018,” Gov. Hutchinson said.
Henderson said he believes the policy was not thought out.
“Governor Hutchinson was negligent in considering the consequences of this Medicaid internet reporting policy. Under my leadership, our state will champion providing quality health insurance to our most vulnerable Arkansans while ensuring we have jobs that provide good benefits that keep them from needing these government-provided necessities in the first place,” Henderson said.
However, Gov. Hutchinson said at the press conference the system stresses the importance of hard work.
“Personal responsibility is important. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure those who qualify for the program keep their coverage, but it is equally important that we make sure those who no longer qualify are removed. Arkansas Works is not a fee for service program, which means taxpayers are paying health insurance premiums for all enrollees every month, averaging roughly $570 a month, per person. This work requirement not only provides Arkansans with an opportunity to gain employment and move up the economic ladder, but also allows the state to concentrate our limited resources on those who need it most,” Gov. Hutchinson said.