Some incorrectly deemed eligible for Medicaid coverage

Arkansas Department of human Services Director John Selig, right, and state Medicaid director Andy Allison listens to legislators questions in a joint meeting of the House and Senate Committees on Public Health, Welfare and Labor at the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Tuesday, May 27, 2014. Lawmakers were updated on the state's compromise Medicaid expansion. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Nearly 4,800 Arkansas residents are receiving notices that they were incorrectly deemed eligible for the state's expanded Medicaid program and will have their coverage end May 31, officials said Thursday.

The Department of Human Services on Thursday said it was notifying 4,798 people that the federal government incorrectly included their information among applications of eligible individuals for the state's "private option" Medicaid expansion. Under the private option, Arkansas is using federal Medicaid money to purchase private insurance for poor people.

DHS said its staff had noticed missing information and income levels that would exclude people from coverage when reviewing application information from the federal government. The federal government told DHS it had been sent data for people whose applications were still pending verification.

"We regret that people are in this position and may be confused by the letters," said Amy Webb, a DHS spokeswoman. "Arkansas acted in good faith after receiving initial notification of eligibility from the federal government, but it appears those notifications were premature."

The plan was approved last year as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law.

DHS said some of the people receiving letters may be eligible but just need to provide more information, while others may be eligible for coverage through the insurance exchange. DHS said individuals who complete the application process and are determined eligible for the Health Care Independence Program will receive retroactive Medicaid coverage and, therefore, will not have a gap in services.

More than 170,000 people have been approved for coverage under the private option.


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