The Arkansas Medicaid mess

Nearly 50,000 Arkansans stand to lose their health insurance despite the fact that many remain eligible.
Feature (Arkansas)

Benjamin Hardy, David Ramsey, Leslie Newell Peacock
Arkansas Times
August 13, 2015

Tags: Health Care


Yet Classic’s income clearly qualifies her for Medicaid. Like tens of thousands of other people who’ve recently lost coverage (or soon will), DHS terminated her insurance not because it actually determined she was ineligible, but simply because it flagged her account as needing additional information.

The agency says it sent letters to each of these beneficiaries, giving them a 10-day deadline to provide documents verifying their income, and beneficiaries failed to respond in time. But the Times has spoken with many people who say they have repeatedly attempted to respond to DHS’ request and have been unable to make contact. Some say they were told by a DHS worker over the phone that the letters were received in error and that they should do nothing. Others, like Classic, claim they never received the letter in the first place.

It’s not surprising that the verification process for a major new program has been messy and complicated. What is surprising is that the state has made that process much more difficult by insisting on a rule that has greatly amplified the bureaucratic headaches: instituting the 10-day window, which is the shortest amount of response time the state could give before it terminates insurance benefits. Giving beneficiaries only 10 days to respond to a confusing piece of mail — which they never expected to receive in the first place — has led to bottlenecks at DHS and an unnecessary loss in coverage for tens of thousands of people whose income makes them eligible for Medicaid, many of whom depend on their insurance for essential medicines.