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 Reporter

Jinghong produces infographics and data stories on health insurance and specialty pharmacy for AIS Health. She graduated from Missouri School of Journalism with a focus on data journalism and international reporting. Before joining AIS in 2018, she worked at WBEZ, Al Jazeera English and The New York Times Chinese.

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