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Arkansas Medicaid Storytelling Project Features Experience Navigating Program

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Medicaid recipients from the storytelling project also suggested that annual allotments for appointments, prescriptions and transportation be improved to increase access to care.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas health advocates have launched a new project aiming to tell the stories of how the Medicaid system has supported residents along with community-informed recommendations to improve the public-health insurance program.

Visitors to the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families' website will be able to read, listen to and view the Medicaid stories along with policy solutions based on input from recipients.

Roderick, an Arkansas Medicaid beneficiary who was interviewed for the project, said Medicaid has had a positive impact on his life, as it increased the number of doctor visits he was permitted annually compared with his private insurance plan previously.

"I believe it is a good program," Roderick stated. "It has worked for me. It has allowed me to stay healthy and to make sure I can monitor my health. I'm 51 years old now, and health insurance and staying healthy is very important."

More than 900,000 Arkansans are covered by Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The project highlighted the stories of Arkansas' Marshallese community, who up until February of this year did not have access to Medicaid services if they were born in the Marshall Islands, despite being legal United States residents.

The state announced earlier this month it is creating a Medicaid Client Voice Council, to increase feedback from recipients about the program.

CaSandra Glover, health-policy fellow at Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, said she hopes to see storytelling participants apply to be a part of the council.

"One of the goals of our organization is going to be connecting some of these storytellers to apply to be a part of this council so that their voice can be heard," Glover explained. "We want to make sure that everyone within the Medicaid program is aware of these issues, but also that the community is able to advocate for themselves."

The project also focused on Medicaid stories from Hispanic and Latinx communities, along with Black communities in the central, Delta and southern areas of the state. Among the policy recommendations included on the website are increasing coverage for new mothers up to 12 months postpartum.

Emily Scott is a reporter and producer in Philadelphia. She previously worked at WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station and is a 2018 graduate of Temple University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.
A statewide non-profit news service for Arkansas. Based in Little Rock as a bureau of the Public News Service.