Arkansas GOP will purge over 5,000 people from Medicaid thanks to Trump


The Trump administration opened the floodgates for GOP governors to cut Medicaid under the guise of 'work requirements.'

Over 5,000 Americans in Arkansas who currently rely on Medicaid are about to lose their health insurance, thanks to the Trump administration.

After being given the go-ahead from the Trump team, Arkansas has implemented work requirements for Medicaid eligibility — requirements that thousands of Medicaid beneficiaries simply will not be able to meet.

Trump officials say the new rules are "about giving people an opportunity to work," but most Medicaid recipients either don't need or can't take that "opportunity."

As ThinkProgress reports, "state data appears to confirm that most people on Medicaid are working or are too frail to work" in Arkansas.

About 5,426 low-income Arkansas residents who did not report 80 hours of work per month in June and July will lose their health insurance in September if they can't report enough work hours in August.

Meanwhile, only 844 people actually met the state's work requirement in July. And many of those people already had a job; there's no evidence that the work requirements magically inspired them to find a new job or demand more hours.

Under the Obama administration, state agencies that receive Medicaid funding were not allowed to implement work requirements. But the Trump administration reversed that policy, and issued new guidance that was a huge gift to Republican governors who wanted to undermine Medicaid.

Arkansas' governor is Republican Asa Hutchinson, a former Bush administration official, and the state assembly is dominated by Republicans.

Going after Medicaid recipients is one of the Trump administration's larger attacks on the poor, and fulfills a longstanding wish among many Republicans to gut Medicaid.

Conservatives have relied on linguistic deception to disguise their attack on low-income families as merely "work requirements" for the "able-bodied."

The problem is, most able-bodied Medicaid recipients are already working. And for those who aren't, work requirements don't actually help them find work.

Work requirements are just an underhanded way to cut Medicaid and punish people who struggle with unemployment or with navigating bureaucracies.

A federal judge recently struck down a Kentucky work requirements scheme that is similar to the situation in Arkansas.

The judge in that case chided the Trump administration for urging the Republican administration in Kentucky, led by Governor Matt Bevin, to implement an "arbitrary and capricious" plan that would restrict health coverage.

Despite the ruling, health secretary Alex Azar bragged that he and the rest of the Trump team would be "undeterred" in their mission to attack health care for the most vulnerable.

The only hope for many Arkansas Medicaid recipients is a new lawsuit fighting the purge brought by the National Health Law Program, Legal Aid, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

National Health Law Program legal director Jane Perkins said in a statement that the lawsuit is part of a plan to "stop the Trump administration’s attempt to transform Medicaid from a health insurance program to a work program — and along the way, to end coverage of medically necessary care for thousands of low-income people."

Trump is cutting a vital lifeline for the most vulnerable Americans, and he's working in concert with Republican governors and legislatures to do so.

Even when the courts have said that this quest is cruel and out of bounds, Republicans have remained undeterred. Hurting those who need help the most has become central to the GOP cause.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.