ARKANSAS, USA — A new report by an Arkansas nonprofit organization is showing why hundreds in the state are having trouble accessing their Medicaid services.
Arkansas Community Organizations and researchers at Columbia University surveyed nearly 300 Arkansans about their experiences in applying for Medicaid.
One Arkansas woman says this isn't a new problem and is something she experienced over a decade ago when she was dropped from Medicaid while pregnant.
Valencia White says she didn't know she was dropped from the healthcare until she was at the doctor's office.
"Going through that application process. I was like, do I need a degree in understanding terminology of understanding wording? Because I was confused," said Valencia White, a mother of two.
White said this she was dropped from her Medicaid coverage twice over the past decade. Whenever she tried to reapply, she experienced a long wait time and had trouble navigating the DHS Medicare website.
The report found system barriers such as long wait times, unanswered phone calls, and a hard-to-navigate website.
"I'm lost. It's confusing,” said White. "I applied 4 times for the same one child."
This is something DHS is looking into and even told 5NEWS they are internally reviewing the report. Arkansas Gavin Lesnick, interim chief of DHS’s Office of Communications & Community Engagement:
"We greatly appreciate Arkansas Community Organizations sharing their report, and we are studying the findings to determine if there are ways we can improve our Medicaid program and processes. In addition to reviewing it internally, we have also shared it with our Medicaid Client Voice Council. This new panel is made up of Medicaid clients and caregivers and will provide important feedback to DHS as we develop best practices and future plans for our many programs under the Medicaid umbrella. We value hearing from beneficiaries and our hope is that the input from the council and this report will help us improve and strengthen these programs.”
White is asking DHS to take their request into account. She also asks that they do a better job of communicating because her Medicaid was dropped twice, unknowingly. Once happened while she was pregnant at a doctor’s appointment.
"That’s embarrassing, okay, what am I supposed to do," White said, recalling the incident.
Her situation happened about a decade ago. However, she says since the last time her coverage was dropped, she hasn't had any issues with Medicaid.
The nonprofits also sent a list of recommendations for DHS including strengthening their customer support and simplifying the application process. The group also sent the complaints to DHS, which says it's internally reviewing the survey report.
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