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Thousands of Arkansans lost their Medicaid coverage while the state assessed their continued eligibility following the COVID-19 emergency declaration



Little Rock, Arkansas – Thousands of Arkansans have lost their Medicaid coverage after the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ended on April 1.

In order to go through enrollees and establish who still qualifies for Medicaid, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders authorized DHS six months to do it.

Over 70,000 recipients have received this news, according to Gavin Lesnick, Chief of Communications with the Department of Human Services, just in June.

“We announced yesterday, which was the third month we call the unwinding, it was a little over 77,000 enrolled in the third month,” said Lesnick.

Lesnick stated that they consider these key elements.

“The number of folks in the household may have changed,” said Lesnick. “The job that they are in may have changed. That is what this redetermination is all about. It is reaching out to the beneficiary, getting those updates, and determining whether they are still eligible for Medicaid or whether they should look for a different option.”

Crystal Berry, a Medicaid recipient, claimed that although she has been covered by the program since before the pandemic, frustration best sums up her recent experiences.

“They sent me a paper saying that I had a household of 5,” said Berry. “They also had me at double my income, jobs I was not working this year. They were jobs from last year. You have to go in there to the office. They give you a yellow slip confirming that they got that information. I turned that in.”

She continues to get notifications that she is ineligible, and despite her best efforts to correct the problem by working with DHS, nothing changed.

“It will make a person want to give up but when your family needs something like that, it pushes you to go out and do that,” said Berry. “It is actually stressful to keep having to do that, especially if you are the type of person that stays on top of your paperwork. You have to keep going up there again and again. It is stressful.”

Berry asserted that she is not alone.

Thousands of families in Arkansas are impacted, according to Al Allen of the Arkansas Community Organization.

“We have had folks report that they could not afford to keep their relatives alive to keep their relatives alive without this system,” said Allen. “Whenever it is literally life and death for people, we cannot afford to be making mistakes or trusting people’s lives to a computer system that is riddled with glitches.”

Lesnick claims that they want to talk to recipients about their problems and continue working with them to provide individuals who qualify for assistance with what they need.

Call the Arkansas Department of Human Services’ hotline at 855-372-1084 or click here if you are a Medicaid beneficiary who has been experiencing problems with renewal.

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