Did Arkansas’ Medicaid Work Requirements Boost Employment?

Arkansas, the first state to add work requirements to its Medicaid program — asking residents ages 30-49 to work 20 hours a week or prepare for a job to maintain their coverage — dropped more than 18,000 people from its Medicaid rolls between June 2018 and April 2019, when a federal judge struck down the policy. A recent study published in Health Affairs found no evidence that the requirements increased employment either when they were in effect or over a longer term. By analyzing data collected from a survey performed in late 2019 of low-income adults in Arkansas, the researchers found that the Medicaid or marketplace coverage of Arkansans ages 30-49 dropped from 70.5% in 2016 to 63.7% in 2018, then rose to 66.1% in 2019, suggesting “most of the Medicaid coverage losses in 2018 were reversed in 2019 after the court order.” Moreover, the state’s low-income residents were confused about the requirements, with 70.8% unsure whether the policy was in effect.

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Jinghong Chen

Jinghong Chen Reporter

Jinghong has been producing infographics and data stories on employer-sponsored insurance, public health insurance programs and prescription drug coverage for AIS Health’s Health Plan Weekly and Radar on Drug Benefits since 2018. She also manages AIS Health’s annual executive compensation database for top insurers and Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliates. Before joining AIS Health, she interned at WBEZ, Al Jazeera English and The New York Times Chinese. She graduated from Missouri School of Journalism with a focus on data journalism and international reporting.

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