More than 4,300 Arkansas residents lose Medicaid under work requirements. The Digital Divide played a roll

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Several thousand poor residents of Arkansas have been dropped from Medicaid because they failed to meet new requirements, the first Americans to lose the safety-net health insurance under rules compelling recipients to work or prepare for a job to keep their coverage. Under Arkansas Works, the state’s expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, able-bodied adults must go online every month and report their hours of work or other community engagement. They lose insurance if they fail to comply for three months in a year. Statewide, nearly a fourth of the population lives in areas in which Internet service is not available, according to figures from the Federal Communications Commission. Even when they have cellphones, many low-income people have plans in which they pay by the minute, said LaShannon Spencer, chief executive of the Community Health Centers of Arkansas. “So spending your minutes to report [work hours] — what’s the likelihood?” Spencer asked.

In Lee County in the Mississippi Delta, where poverty is rampant, nearly three-quarters of the people lack online access. “I’ve had people say, ‘What’s Arkansas Works?’ and I’m thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, you don’t even know what it is, so how do you know that you need to go online and report work?’ ” said Kellee Farris, who runs the Lee County Cooperative Clinic.

More than 4,300 Arkansas residents lose Medicaid under work requirements