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SPLC statement on loss of Medicaid benefits to thousands of Arkansans

New figures released by the state of Arkansas this week show that more than 4,600 low-income people in the state have lost their Medicaid benefits because of a draconian state requirement that they must work in order to receive those benefits.

We are deeply saddened, but unfortunately not surprised, that so many people are already being adversely affected by Arkansas’ decision to impose these complicated work requirements.

Make no mistake, we believe the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have violated the U.S. Constitution and federal laws by approving the state’s work requirements.

These numbers lay bare the true reality about these so-called work requirements: They are going to drive thousands of people off of Medicaid. And in turn, this is going to jeopardize people’s health and make it even harder for them to provide for themselves and their families.

States should be attempting to make access to health care easier, not harder. We hope the court will recognize this injury for what it is and, in due course, put a halt to the Trump administration’s reckless effort to transform Medicaid from a health insurance program to a work program. 

The SPLC is a part of a team of legal advocates that is challenging Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas, Kentucky and other states. In June, a federal judge vacated the Trump administration’s approval of Kentucky’s Medicaid work requirements, and sent the proposal back to the Department of Health and Human Services.