The Atlantic

Want Health Care in Arkansas? Find a Job

A conversation with the head of the department of human services in the first state to force a group of people to work in exchange for medical care
Source: Carlo Allegri / Reuters

Arkansas just became the first state to implement work requirements for its Medicaid program. Similar Medicaid waivers have been approved for three other states, and seven more are pending, spurred in part by the Trump administration’s guidance last year.

Now, if able-bodied adults on Arkansas’ Medicaid rolls don’t go to work, study, or volunteer for 80 or more hours a month, they will lose their health insurance coverage in three months. A study by the Urban Institute in May estimated that, this year alone, 22,000 people, or 8 percent of Arkansas’ Medicaid population, could be subject to the work requirements and are not working.

The work requirements reflect, among some conservative health-policy experts, that people should be encouraged to get jobs and get off Medicaid. Many liberals, meanwhile, feel that revoking health insurance is a harsh punishment for what could amount to a lack of skills, transportation, or knowledge. Three consumer the Trump administration to stop the work requirements.

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