Mar 20, 2019

Medicaid work requirements aren't boosting work in Arkansas

HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Photo: Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty Images

When Arkansas became the first state to enforce work requirements in its Medicaid program, thousands lost their coverage. Most of those people haven't found jobs, according to an analysis of state data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and are still uninsured.

Why it matters: The Trump administration has argued that work requirements will help people get off of the government program and into the workforce — part of a broader reframing of Medicaid as more of a welfare program than a source of insurance.

By the numbers: Of the roughly 18,000 Arkansans who lost their coverage last year due to the new rules, only about 2,000 have re-enrolled in 2019, according to HHS. 

  • "That seems a fairly strong indication that the individuals who left the program were doing so because they got a job," HHS Secretary Alex Azar told the Senate Finance Committee last week.

Reality check: Only 1,981 of those people matched entries in the state's database of new hires, CBPP says, suggesting that the rest didn't find work.

  • Even that number may be overstated, because the database includes people who found new work for a short time, and those who switched jobs.
  • It also doesn't say whether people who found employment get health coverage through those jobs.

Go deeper: Where Medicaid work requirements (and their lawsuits) stand elsewhere

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Trump administration asks Congress for $2.5 billion to fight coronavirus

President Trump with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at the White House in September. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Trump administration sent a letter to Congress Monday requesting a funding commitment of at least $2.5 billion to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Details: The request for a lump sum account for the Department of Health and Human Services includes $1.25 billion in new funds to fight COVID-19 and $535 would come from untouched funds for the Ebola virus.

WHO won't call coronavirus a pandemic as cases spread

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The World Health Organization will not yet call the coronavirus a pandemic, claiming that needs across affected countries are too varied and the classification would increase fear, per a briefing Monday.

The big picture: As South Korea and Italy stepped up emergency measures in efforts to thwart the spread of the virus, WHO expressed concern about infections with no clear link to China. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,620 people and infected almost 80,000 others, with all but 27 deaths occurring in mainland China.

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The global scramble to contain the coronavirus

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The coronavirus is spreading quickly in cities nowhere near Wuhan, China, and the window to prevent a global pandemic is narrowing.

Zoom in: Here's a look at what comes with a coronavirus outbreak in communities outside China that have been hardest hit so far.

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