LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — More than a quarter of the 250,000 Arkansas residents eligible under the state's expanded Medicaid program have been enrolled for coverage, according to the state Department of Human Services.
The department said 62,698 people were enrolled in the expanded program as of Tuesday. The number includes food-stamp recipients, residents who signed up for coverage using a state website and people assigned to the traditional Medicaid program because of their health needs, the department said.
"We do feel like it's going well," Human Services Department spokeswoman Amy Webb said. "There's been no huge issues, and people are being able to go through the application process."
Arkansas is accepting the money allocated for Medicaid expansion under the federal health care law but is using it to buy private insurance for about 250,000 eligible low-income residents. Individuals who earn up to 138 percent of the poverty rate — or $15,415 per year — can purchase subsidized private insurance through the state's insurance exchange.
Most of those who enroll are expected to be able to sign up for private plans on the state's health-insurance exchange and have Medicaid pay the premiums. About 10 percent — those identified as "medically frail" because of their health care needs — will be assigned to the traditional Medicaid program.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Thursday (http://bit.ly/I1MUNP ) that most of those who have enrolled have been food stamp recipients who received letters from the Department of Human Services in September informing them of their eligibility.
Tonya Nahlen, 61, was among those signing up for coverage after she received a notice of eligibility last month from DHS. Nahlen has diabetes and has been uninsured for about 15 years, she said.
"This means a lot to me," Nahlen said. "The day I signed up, I was on cloud nine because I was receiving help that I've needed for quite some time."
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com