A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction in behalf of a Lee County woman who experienced a nightmarish attempt to get certified for Medicaid by the state Human Services Department.

Judge Kristine Baker, in a 43-page opinion, said the state must make an eligibility determination “with reasonable promptness” and consider granting it retroactive to Nov. 24.

Anita Walker applied Nov. 24 for coverage through the federally subsidized health marketplace. She was told to provide more information. Her application was lost. She applied again. She was again told to provide more information. She tried through mid-May repeatedly to get information on her application. Legal Aid of Arkansas began helping May 26. June 19, the state asked for more information. She provided it. June 29, her application was dismissed because she was told she filed the wrong place. She appealed. Aug. 17, The state said the appeal was defective. Walker sued.

In the 10 months, Walker became increasingly pressed financially by monthly drug and other bills.


She is  but one of thousands harmed by the state’s inability to process applications speedily.

Kevin De Liban, staff attorney for Legal Aid of Arkansas, said in a note relaying the decision that it applies only to Walker, but that it could become a precedent establishing that the state must make determinations on applications to the federally subsidized health insurance marketplace. “Even if it’s not precedent, it should put DHS on notice that it can’t try to erect the barriers to coverage that it was doing to Ms. Walker.”