Medicaid and ARKids First Will Play a Critical Role in Pandemic

Making Medicaid more flexible can help Arkansas and its families in the fight against COVID-19, and Arkansas can take advantage of several options in an emergency like this one.

Tricia Brooks, research professor at the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, outlined some of those options in a post today at the Center’s Say Ahhh! blog. Brooks emphasized that Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will play a “critical role” in supporting children and families during this crisis. In Arkansas, CHIP is part of the ARKids First program, which also includes children on Medicaid.

Arkansas should consider taking advantage of some of these options that could help families during a time when we want to encourage everyone to seek health care services when needed. We don’t anyone to stay away from a doctor’s office or avoid seeking care because of cost.

As outlined in Brooks blog post and in a Frequently Asked Questions update by the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services, states may:

  • Stop charging co-payments during a public health emergency
  • Expand presumptive eligibility determinations to ensure that patients get coverage quickly
  • Be excused from processing deadlines when short-staffed or overwhelmed with applications. Individuals can continue to be covered during that processing delay

Earlier this week, Georgetown Health Policy Institute’s Edwin Park recommended increasing the amount of assistance from the federal government to state Medicaid programs. His recommendation asserts that this would help states meet their requirements to maintain a balanced budget in the wake of more people needing Medicaid services.

Now that President Trump has declared a federal emergency, we hope that federal and state officials will make extra effort to implement these changes. Medicaid can help all of us – children and families, our state, and our health care industry – through this difficult time.