The following is a statement from Rich Huddleston, executive director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families:
AACF is pleased with today’s announcement that the state of Arkansas must give Medicaid and Private Option clients 30 days to respond to notices from DHS before terminating their health coverage. This policy change not only aligns with federal regulations, but also prioritizes the health and financial security of thousands of Arkansas families.
But the fact remains that over 50,000 people have already been terminated or will soon lose their coverage. This will result in dangerous coverage gaps. Arkansas must take steps ensure that eligible people who are losing coverage maintain it. The state should reinstate coverage for everyone who has recently been terminated unless there is proof they are no longer eligible. At a minimum, the state should immediately send notices stating their coverage can still be reinstated, if they respond within 90 days.
These are only short-term solutions. If Arkansas values the health and well-being of our citizens, we must make long-term improvements in the enrollment and renewal process for Medicaid and Private Option coverage. The state also should rollback policies that prohibit important investments in consumer outreach and education. These bans only serve to keep critical information out of the hands of families who need it the most.
Consumer-friendly policies must be implemented. Consumers should receive clearly worded notices at the appropriate reading level. Multiple notices should also be sent before coverage is terminated—which is a common and expected practice in the private sector.
At Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, we believe the greatest investment we can make is in the children and families of our state. We must commit to supporting these hardworking families, by ensuring that have access to quality health coverage and a secure economic future.