One of the aspects of the Medicaid / Arkansas Works expansion debate that gets little attention is efforts to help eligible Arkans retain their health insurance.

Arkansas Works recipients aged 30 to 49 are required to work 80 hours a month and report it to Medicaid. Starting February 1st, adults between the ages of 19 and 29 will be added to this requirement. Of the 234,385 people covered by Arkansas Works, about 60,680 are required to report. Of these, only 4,776 failed on 31 December. The rules on work and community participation make it possible to work, look for work, take training, go to school, volunteer, or a combination of both.

In exchange for 80 hours of activity, they benefit from a private health insurance subsidized by the Medicaid program of Arkansas. Most also pay a fraction of the premiums, as well as co-payments for doctor visits, drugs and other services.

Approximately 60% of the age group are exempt from reporting requirements if they meet one of the conditions set by the legislature. These include being sick, being pregnant, caring for another person, caring for a child or having a short-term reason not to work. Some exemptions must also be reported monthly.

The requirements for public assistance work are not unique. They apply for temporary assistance for families in need (formerly Assistance for Families with Dependent Children) and the Special Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps).

The Medical Services Division, which oversees the state's Medicaid program, uses several strategies to reach this population. He has contracted with AFMC, a nonprofit health improvement organization, which I direct, to recruit and train representatives to contact Arkansas clients. Works. The AFMC provides:

• an incoming call center to answer Medicaid questions or give step-by-step instructions on how to report the hours of work or involvement of the community. Callers may choose a primary care physician, obtain a new Medicaid card or report a change of address. The call center is open seven days a week, from 7 am to 9 pm, except on statutory holidays.

• an outgoing call center to locate those who have failed to report and for which DMS does not have a current phone number or address. Several letters, emails and SMS were sent and over 190,000 phone calls were made to locate eligible Arkans. Representatives of call centers help Arkansans find resources and keep or recover their health insurance coverage.

• Reporting assistance Allow callers to report hours of work and commitment to the AFMC call center. Agents enter data into the computer for Arkansas Works recipients. This is useful for people who are unfamiliar with computers or people who do not have access to a computer.

Complying with Arkansas Works is possible without touching a computer. Reports can be prepared in 335 local offices, including:

• Offices of the Human Services Department of Arkansas in each county (see the map and address.)

• Offices of the Arkansas Manpower Department which can be located from this map online. (Free job search services are available online or at any ADWS office.)

• Public computers in public libraries, colleges and universities. These access methods are free and trained people are available. Other ways to report include:

• The Go to the Arkansas website between 7 am and 9 pm

• private insurance companies who can complete the report. Call for free: Arkansas Blue Cross, (800) 800-4298; Ambetter of Arkansas, (877) 617-0390; or QualChoice, (800) 235-7111.

• Arkansas Works Phone Support at (501) 301-4147 between 7:00 am and 9:00 pm seven days a week, except holidays.

• Any internet connection via smartphone, tablet or computer.

• registered journalists authorized to communicate work data.

Beneficiaries who have lost their health coverage in 2018 can reapply in January without asking any questions. If they find their eligibility, they can start reporting or know if they benefit from an exemption.

Many who have lost insurance Arkansas Works are untraceable, have moved or have changed phone numbers without informing the DHS. Although individuals have the responsibility to fulfill the requirements for obtaining and maintaining health insurance, help is available in many forms, in many places and through trained representatives.

Ray Hanley is President and CEO of the AFMC in Little Rock. Previously, he had spent 16 years as a director of Medicaid in Arkansas. Email him to