Gov: Work Requirement Approved For Arkansas’ Medicaid Expansion

LITTLE ROCK (KFSM) -- The Trump administration on Monday (March 5) approved Arkansas' plan to require thousands of people on its Medicaid expansion to work or volunteer, making Arkansas the third state allowed to impose such restrictions on coverage for the poor.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved the requirement for Arkansas' program, which uses Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents.

More than 285,000 people are on the Arkansas program, which was created as an alternative to expanding traditional Medicaid under the federal health law.

Hutchinson was joined for the announcement by Seema Verma, who heads the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The Trump administration in January said it would allow states to impose work requirements on Medicaid. It has already approved proposals from Kentucky and Indiana. Arkansas' proposal will not affect those on its traditional Medicaid program.

The plan will affect about 39,000 non-disabled, childless adults on the plan who are 19 to 49 years old. They would be required to work or participate in other activities such as volunteering or vocational training for 20 hours a week.

The work requirement's approval was seen as key to winning support for reauthorizing the expansion in Arkansas, as part of the budget.

The budget bill for Medicaid and the expansion requires three-fourths support in both chambers of the Legislature, and vacancies in the Senate have left supporters shy of the votes they'll need.

The work requirement's approval was seen as key to winning support for reauthorizing the Medicaid expansion by state lawmakers in Arkansas.

The state budget bill for Medicaid and the expansion require three-fourths support in both chambers of the Legislature, and vacancies in the Arkansas Senate have left supporters shy of the votes they'll need.

Verma, however, didn't approve another proposal by Arkansas to move 60,000 people off the Medicaid expansion by lowering the eligibility cap from 138 percent of the federal poverty level to 100 percent.

The federal poverty line this year is $12,140 for a single person or $25,100 for a family of four.

Arkansas would have been the first state to scale back the eligibility for a key part of the federal health overhaul. The people affected would have been eligible to buy subsidized private insurance through HealthCare.gov, the federally run health care insurance exchange.