Arkansas Works, the state’s updated version of Medicaid expansion that covers more than 280,000 people, goes live this summer. Arkansas’ expansion, once called the private option, has been in place since 2013. This March, the Trump administration approved new work requirement rules proposed by the state. The work requirement for the first group of Arkansas Works clients goes live June 1.
Arkansas Works provides health insurance to people below 138 percent of federal poverty level.
To begin, the work requirement will only affect clients ages 30–49. In 2019, clients ages 19–29 will be subject to the work requirement. Those under the work requirement must work, attend school, volunteer or undergo job training for at least 80 hours per month. Clients must report their work activities every month through their account on Access Arkansas.
Many Arkansas Works clients will be exempt from the work requirement. Those who are on SNAP or unemployment, or receive TEA cash assistance are exempt. Also potentially exempt are clients who:
- Earn at least the same as 80 hours per month at the Arkansas minimum wage
- Have a disability
- Have a child age 18 or younger in the home
- Are pregnant or were pregnant in the last 60 days
- Care for a person who cannot care for themselves
- Get short-term disability and cannot work
- Are in an alcohol- or drug-treatment program
- Go to school, vocational school or job training full-time
Not everyone who falls into one or more of those categories will get an exemption. Clients will report any possible exemptions to the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) via Access Arkansas.
It is important that Arkansas Works clients understand the new work requirement. That’s why DHS has contracted with AFMC to conduct proactive outreach with Arkansas Works clients. Starting in May, AFMC representatives will call clients and walk them through the process of setting up an Access Arkansas account for reporting either their work hours or their exemption status. AFMC staff will also confirm the client’s email address so they can receive updated information from Arkansas Works.
AFMC representatives will go into further detail regarding a DHS letter that is sent to all clients. In addition to helping the client set up their account, AFMC will make sure the client knows how to access information about Arkansas Works, how to determine their work requirement status, how to view their compliance information and how to find resources to help meet the requirement.
Clients looking for more information about Arkansas Works can visit afmc.org/individuals and click on the link “Arkansans on Arkansas Works.” You can find a full explanation of the Arkansas Works program there, as well as a link to Access Arkansas and contact information for the Arkansas Works Education Center.