This month, the state of Arkansas published its first unwinding report showing that more than 72,000 Arkansans have lost Medicaid coverage in the first two months of the unwinding process. Around 75% lost coverage for preventable procedural reasons, not because they were ineligible. A group of community organizations known as Our Healthy Alliance is urging residents to take action to protect their health coverage as the unwinding process continues.
- Arkansas is currently reviewing enrollment in the Medicaid program and disenrolling patients whose eligibility cannot be verified. This process is referred to as “unwinding.”
- During the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), the typical renewal processes paused, and Medicaid patients did not need to verify eligibility to keep benefits.
- Now that the PHE has ended, states are confirming patients’ eligibility and disenrolling patients who no longer qualify or whose eligibility cannot be verified.
- Arkansas will complete the unwinding process in six months, the shortest timeframe in the country.
- In the first Arkansas Medicaid Unwinding Report, the state reported that 72,802 Arkansans lost coverage. Around 75% of those were due to procedural issues, not because they were no longer eligible. The following reasons were cited:
- Failed to return renewal form: 44,714 patients.
- Failed to return requested information: 7,673 patients.
- Unable to locate – returned mail: 2,024 patients.
- Residents with health insurance through Medicaid, ARKIDS First or ARHOME should act now to make sure they don’t lose coverage.
- First, residents should ensure the Arkansas Department of Human Services is able to contact them. Residents can update their address at access.arkansas.gov or call the Update Arkansas hotline at 1-844-872-2660.
- Residents should regularly check their mail. The Arkansas Department of Human Services began sending out letters in February and will be sending letters to more people in the coming months. Residents should open their mail daily to ensure they don’t miss an important letter.
- In the event of loss of Medicaid coverage, there are still options.
- Appeal the decision if a resident still qualifies.
- Apply for affordable health insurance through the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace (AHIM).
- Contact Community Clinic in Northwest Arkansas at 1-855-438-2280 for help in a different language.
- They can help residents get Medicaid back or help them sign up for a different type of health insurance.
This project is funded through Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH), a national program administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities.
Through REACH, grantees plan and conduct local, culturally appropriate programs to address a wide range of health issues among Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and Alaska Native persons.