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Arkansas DHS: Criticism of Medicaid disenrollment ‘fabricated outrage’

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(The Center Square) – Criticism of Arkansas’ disenrollment of thousands of Medicaid recipients after the public health emergency ended is misplaced, said Kristi Putnam, Department of Human Services secretary.

More than 77,000 people were removed from the rolls in June, according to DHS’ latest report. The DHS renewed more than 50,000 cases.

The state could not remove any recipients during the public health emergency. During normal eligibility rules, which resumed on April 1, the state would remove between 20,000 to 30,000 ineligible residents a month, according to DHS.

“There is a lot of fabricated outrage and incorrect reporting about Arkansas’ legally required efforts to redetermine eligibility for Medicaid recipients whose coverage was extended due to special rules during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency that have since ended,” Putnam said. “This outrage is misplaced, it’s coming from out-of-state media and special interest groups, and it distracts from the reality that Arkansas is following a detailed plan developed over more than a year that is both fair and helps protect Medicaid resources for those who truly need it.”

The state removed 45,000 from the Medicaid rolls in April and another 68,000 in May.

“Individuals in Arkansas are transitioning off of Medicaid, and the main reason is because they are working, making more money, and have access to health care through their employers or the federal marketplace,” said Deputy Secretary and Medicaid Director Janet Mann. “This should be celebrated, not criticized.”

The majority of those removed in June – nearly 39,000 – were removed for failing to return the renewal form, according to DHS. Over 32,000 of those removed received benefits extended during the public health emergency. Nearly 9,300 did not return the requested information, with 2,317 among those receiving extended benefits. Almost 5,400 requested the DHS to remove them from the Medicaid rolls. DHS said 2,033 were receiving benefits because of the public health emergency.

More than 29,000 recipients were taken off the ARHOME program, which Medicaid funds to insure residents through a private company. Nearly 20,000 were part of the extended benefits enacted during the public health emergency. The state removed 20,666 children from the ARKIDS A program, which is Medicaid for children. Just over 11,000 of the children were part of the extended benefits program.

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