Number Of Arkansans Losing Coverage Reaches 49,000

Coverage so far has ended for 60,348 Arkansans served by the private option and traditional Medicaid, but of those, 11,292 had their coverage reinstated after it was determined they were eligible.

That leaves 49,056 Arkansans removed from the rolls as of Tuesday morning since the Department of Human Services began redetermining eligibility for those two programs, according to spokesperson Amy Webb. Of those reinstated, 9,300 are covered by the state’s so-called “private option” while the rest are covered by traditional Medicaid. Webb said some of the 11,292 had submitted the required information but had lost their coverage anyway because of problems with the verification system.

Among the 60,348 cancellations, 56,604 occurred because the recipients failed to verify their incomes on time. The remaining 3,744 were determined to be no longer eligible because their incomes had changed, because they have moved out of state, or for other reasons, Webb said.

The state’s efforts to verify eligibility for 600,000 Medicaid and private option cases was supposed to be completed by the end of September after being delayed because of problems adopting a computer verification system.

DHS originally allowed beneficiaries a 10-day deadline to respond to a request for income verification if state workforce records indicated their incomes had changed, with opportunities available for appeal and reinstatement. When a backlog of cases was created, in early August Gov. Asa Hutchinson ordered a two-week timeout on sending the verification notices.

Then on August 28, DHS announced it was extending that deadline to 30 days based on guidance it had received from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Webb said the state is not currently mailing cancellation notices while it undergoes a system update based on the new 30-day deadline. However, it is continuing to work the cases already begun.

Medicaid is the state-administered program that provides health services for the poor, the disabled, and the aged. The private option uses federal Medicaid dollars to purchase private insurance for Arkansans with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level. It has been controversial since its creation in 2013 because critics say it is unsustainable and too closely associated with Obamacare.

A Health Reform Legislative Task Force is considering reforms to both programs and is expected to make a report by year’s end. It is expecting to receive recommendations from its consultant this week.