March 5 (UPI) — Arkansas on Monday became the third state to receive federal approval to require low-income residents on Medicaid to work or volunteer to receive benefits.
“[It’s] not about punishing anyone,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters on Monday. “It’s about giving people the opportunity to work. It’s to give them training that they need. It’s to help them move out of poverty and up the economic ladder.”
Still, Hutchinson predicted that Arkansas would be the first to actually implement the law because it has been preparing to do so for about a year, when it first sought approval for the federal waiver.
The federal waiver signed by U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma on Monday allows Arkansas to require beneficiaries, ages 19-49, to participate in 80 hours per month of community engagement activities such as employment, education, job skills training or community service. The requirement includes exceptions made for elderly, the disabled, children and pregnant women.
The Trump administration began allowing states to move toward requiring Medicaid recipients to work earlier this year.