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Group reports barriers to Medicaid

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Arkansas Community Organizations released a report today on the difficulty of getting Medicaid coverage in Arkansas and some suggestions to improve the process.

In a state where Republican politicians are bent on reducing the number on Medicaid and even passed a law preventing spending on programs to help people sign up, you can imagine the legislative reception.

Some specifics cited in the group’s news release:

“Delays in coverage can be tragic, because bills aren’t delayed. Illness and injury aren’t delayed,” said Valencia White, a Medicaid recipient who also serves on the Board for Arkansas Community Organizations. “It was a struggle getting healthcare for my youngest son. The online application was confusing, the workers didn’t have the training to answer my questions, and it was very frustrating. Please, let’s break down the barriers and help those in dire need of healthcare live a better life.”

Other Arkansas applicants said they experienced problems like no one answering the phone or calls being dropped, not understanding how to apply for the program, trouble navigating the website, and long wait times.

Older people, for example, may not understand new online technologies, or they can’t read the application forms, or their eyesight is too dim to complete the application themselves. Other people eligible for Medicaid may be experiencing homelessness, or they’re transient, without permanent addresses, or their phone contact may change. The very people most in need of healthcare are also the ones most in need of assistance getting coverage.

Here’s the executive summary of the work, delivered today to the Department of Human Services.

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