Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders calls for Medicaid work restrictions
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced at a news conference Wednesday that she will ask the federal government for a waiver so Arkansas can require Medicaid recipients to work, volunteer or enroll in classes to receive benefits.
State of play: Arkansas was the first state to implement work requirements for the coverage in mid-2018, when the Trump administration allowed states to set individual restrictions.
- It's estimated that by the time those requirements were blocked by a federal judge in 2019, 18,000 residents had lost coverage.
Why it matters: Medicaid provides medical services to eligible people with limited income.
- Just under a million Arkansans were covered by Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program in 2021. That's nearly one-third of the state's population.
Details: If Sanders' waiver request is approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, it will apply to about 300,000 able-bodied people in the state enrolled in ARHOME, which uses Medicaid money to buy private insurance, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
- The state Legislature is considering a bill that would require Medicaid to cover postpartum mothers for a full year after giving birth. That measure will be reviewed in committee Thursday.
Zoom out: South Dakota's Legislature last month advanced a proposed constitutional amendment to try and force people on Medicaid to work. It's been referred to the state's Senate committee for review.
What we're watching: Arkansas' Department of Human Services will publish a draft Medicaid waiver amendment on April 23. It will be open for public comment for 30 days.
- A pandemic-era policy increased federal contributions to Medicaid programs while requiring states to maintain continuous coverage for beneficiaries.
- More than half the nation's children are currently covered by the program, the center estimates.
Threat level: The matching policy will start to gradually lift beginning April 1 and will be completely eliminated by Dec. 31.
- The center calls for state leaders to do everything possible to protect children from "getting caught up in red tape and losing their health coverage."
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that 11 states have not expanded Medicaid eligibility. Arkansas has adopted the expansion.
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