One million Arkansans at risk of losing Medicaid
CASH, Ark. (KAIT) - As the federal public health emergency is expected to end soon, one million Arkansans fear they will lose their Medicaid coverage.
The Arkansas Department of Health will have six months to reevaluate every Arkansan under Medicaid to see if they still meet the requirements.
Cash resident Bradley Ledgerwood said this could cause some people to miss treatments, lose income, or get placed in a nursing home.
“I honestly think this is a bigger undertaking than DHS realizes,” he said.
Ledgerwood has been on Medicaid since he was 18 years old. He said he was grandfathered into the new program, so he gets “more hours than somebody that gets on there now.”
His concern is that multiple people will not have access to resources if they lose coverage.
“The first thing you need to do when you get a notice is contact a lawyer,” he said.
Ledgerwood has had an attorney with Legal Aid of Arkansas, as he and several other members of the Client Voices Council have been meeting with the DHS Administration.
A spokesperson from the agency released a statement Thursday afternoon:
“We are committed to completing this process in a way that best allows eligible Arkansans to continue receiving Medicaid coverage.
During the federal Public Health Emergency, Arkansas Medicaid is required to delay ending coverage for clients whose cases would have normally had to be closed for reasons including being over the income limit, not returning information DHS asked for, or not completing renewal paperwork. Once the Public Health Emergency ends, DHS will be required to use the normal rules for determining when a case should be closed and a client’s coverage should end. All clients who have had their closures delayed during the pandemic will need to complete renewal paperwork if they want to keep their coverage. The six-month period for completing these redeterminations was enacted by the Arkansas General Assembly in Act 780 of 2021.
At this time, we are actively planning for these renewals and developing outreach strategies to connect with those who will need to complete this step in order to keep their coverage. This includes a new call center that we recently created that has begun proactively reaching out to make sure clients’ contact information is up to date so renewals will be sent to the correct address. We encourage Arkansans to answer if they receive a phone call from 844-872-2660. If clients have questions about their coverage, they can also call 855-372-1084 or check their case online at access.arkansas.gov.
Taking steps now to make sure contact information is up to date and then returning the necessary renewal paperwork when it is sent will ensure that eligible clients do not lose coverage.”
The Client Voices Council will meet in Little Rock this May to find out the next steps to securing health coverage.
The federal government has not announced when the public emergency will end.
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