Arkansas puts work requirements on Medicaid

The preliminary results from the Arkansas experiment look alarming: 18,000 people lost their health insurance in the first six months because they did not comply with the requirements.

Feature (Arkansas, NATIONAL)

The Economist
February 15, 2019

Tags: Medicaid, Work Requirements

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid of Arkansas (LAA) (Jonesboro, AR)


In theory, placing work requirements on welfare programmes can result in higher employment and less government spending. In Arkansas, though, the labour-market effects are hard to detect. State officials point to a report showing that over the first six months of the new policy 4,400 Medicaid participants found work. But it is unclear whether people are moving from unemployment to work or merely switching jobs. Similar numbers before the work requirement went into place, which would allow for comparison, are unavailable. “There is no baseline data, and that lack of data is really concerning,” says Kevin De Liban of Legal Aid of Arkansas, which is suing the state to reverse the policy.