The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has blown a raspberry at the administration’s assertion that many of the thousands who lost Medicaid coverage for failure to comply with the new work rule just might have gone to work.

Only about 2,000 of the 18,000 who lost coverage last year re-enrolled at the start of 2019.

Asked what happened to the 18,000 Arkansans who lost coverage due to the work requirement, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar told a House hearing last Tuesday that “we do not yet have data as to why they fell off the program.” At the Senate Finance Committee two days later, Azar pointed to the low share of people who lost coverage last year and re-enrolled in January and said, “That seems a fairly strong indication that the individuals who left the program were doing so because they got a job.”

But state data released on Friday show that very few beneficiaries who lost coverage found jobs. Of the 18,164 beneficiaries who lost coverage in 2018 for not complying with the work requirement, 1,981 had matches in the state’s New Hire Database, indicating they found new work. That means that for the more than 16,000 others who lost coverage, there is no evidence that they found new work.

Moreover, these data almost certainly overstate the number of those losing Medicaid who found steady employment.

There’s more, but it’s become familiar. The evidence is strong that this was a bad policy, poorly implemented, likely illegal and unlikely to make people either healthier or more prosperous.