New work requirements mean thousands losing Medicaid in Arkansas

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — Work, or lose your health insurance — that's an ultimatum given to Arkansans on Medicaid this summer.

More than 4,000 people have already been dropped from the program after a new 80-hour per month work requirement that took effect in June means some are no longer ineligible for free or low-cost health care.

In lieu of paid work, Medicaid recipients can also report volunteering, school work or job hunting.

That's not unreasonable, some say.

"If people are sitting at home, wanting insurance for nothing, and they can work, they can help society, man, get up," says one Arkansan.

But Jacqueline Cannon at the Good Neighbor Love Center in West Memphis, which provides groceries to needy residents, points out that many of the people who come through her doors aren't in a position to do that.

"You have some people that can't work, and they still don't have Medicaid, you know. Some are not receiving any type of assistance no more than Medicaid, and if you cut it out, then they won't have anything," she said.

State officials say they made efforts to contact those subject to the new requirements. And, those who could not find employment have been offered training.

Consumer advocates say these results prove that work requirements do not help people find jobs.

Three consumer groups are suing the Trump administration in an effort to halt the Arkansas program