Arkansas has asked the federal government to allow it to revamp its Medicaid program, offering an alternative to its controversial work requirements program that has been overturned by the courts. The new plan would instead encourage enrollees to work in exchange for staying on a private insurance plan paid for by Medicaid funds.
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said on Friday his office had met with the Department of Health and Human Services on the new plan and said the plan met Medicaid goals.
“It’s obvious to me that they’re going to be looking to make sure that we don’t have something like before, which the Biden administration was quite opposed to, which was a strict job requirement,” Hutchinson said during ‘an American company. Manifestation of the Institute. This plan, however, does not have a strict labor requirement, he added, and would not result in the loss of coverage for beneficiaries, which is the concern of the Biden administration.
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Arkansas previously implemented the country’s first work requirements program in 2018, a controversial policy that required Medicaid registrants to register a certain number of hours of work or study, with a few exceptions. Those who did not log their hours after a certain number of months risked losing their insurance coverage. About 18,000 people lost Medicaid insurance coverage during policy implementation; many regained their coverage when the policy was suspended.
The policy was then blocked in court in early 2019. Other states have also faced legal challenges to their policies on work requirements. No programs are currently being implemented due to a provision in a first COVID-19 relief plan blocking eligibility changes to Medicaid programs during the public health emergency. Earlier this year, the Biden administration began a process to withdraw federal approval for work requirements.
In a letter to Arkansas earlier this year, an official from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services told the state that its previous policy “did not promote the goals of the Medicaid program.”
The new plan offers an alternative to work requirements, instead incentivizing work for able-bodied Medicaid beneficiaries to stay on private insurance plans. Medicaid beneficiaries who do not meet these incentives would be reverted to traditional Medicaid, but would not lose their coverage.
“While this waiver does not include a strict job requirement… we can encourage education, work and community service,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson said the plan is in line with Medicaid goals.
“In fact, the Affordable Care Act should be used as a way to help low-income workers, improve their health, increase their skills and work opportunities, so, yes, this waiver is consistent with the goal of Medicaid, as net security, and also to help lift people out of poverty, ”he said.
Hutchinson has expressed optimism that the Biden administration will review the plan.
“The objection is that they don’t want people to lose their health coverage. So what we’re asking for is a plan that doesn’t result in individuals on expanded Medicaid coverage losing and I think with that they’ll have confidence in that, ”Hutchinson said.
The plan also includes community bridging programs aimed at supporting three specific groups: women with high-risk pregnancies, people with behavioral needs, and young adults at risk of long-term poverty, which Hutchinson describes as young people leaving. the foster care or incarceration system. These programs will be anchored in community hospitals, he said, many of which are faith-based.