Arkansas is the perfect place to try out this new health trend. Read all about the what, why, where and how here.
Political opposition is one thing. Hypocritical opposition is another. A couple of examples popped up over the weekend:
DONALD TRUMP He won't be president. He's a crude bully. But ... I would like to say something to those who laughed uproariously when he protested that he'd only called Rosie O'Donnell a fat pig and who lustily cheered his criticism of political correctness. Shut up if you plan to criticize Trump for maybe or maybe not suggesting he got a hard time from Fox's Megyn Kelly because she was menstruating. Male chauvinism is male chauvinism — against friend or foe.
GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY. This is much more important. Lives are at stake.
Arkansas is months behind and ill-equipped — at least in part because of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's refusal to fill open state jobs — in performing the income verification process for Medicaid recipients.
Of course eligibility should be checked regularly. Of course it should be checked for the 250,000 or so people newly added to health insurance thanks to the state's private option version of Medicaid expansion authorized under Obamacare.
As many as 50,000 may lose coverage, mostly for failure to complete paperwork on the eligibility check (if they got paperwork at all). Can you think of a Republican who's uttered a word of outrage about state incompetence? Who's demanding an investigation? They weren't so silent about the glitch-plagued Obamacare rollout.
The difference here, of course, is that many Republicans WANT tens of thousands to be ineligible for government-paid insurance. Many of them want Obamacare to go away entirely. Gov. Hutchinson is not in that number. He NEEDS Obamacare money and the surplus it provides for other services to balance his tax-cut-reduced budget. But, needing to cater to the rest of his party, he also isn't doing anything important to fix the problem.
Former Times staff writer David Ramsey has been writing in detail on the blog and in the paper about the many flaws in the state process, some perhaps even illegal under federal standards.
What's wrong with the Arkansas process? Among others:
The state asks for proof of income from some whose income data shows them still eligible for Medicaid, including some whose income has gone DOWN.
The letter went out in envelopes with little indication of what they were about — junk mail in appearance — to people being asked for the first time about income verification. The letters also were vague.
Phone lines were jammed.
The 10-day window for response is arbitrarily short. It might even be illegal. Federal regulations seem to require at least 30 days.
*The state is deeming people ineligible for one part of Medicaid though they might be eligible for another. They are terminated for non-response without a review of circumstances.
*Most of those being terminated have no income. That is, there is no doubt they are eligible for Medicaid. The state knows who they are. By federal rules, they should be automatically eligible if the state has reliable information that they have no income.
If someone IS newly ineligible for the private option, Ramsey has discovered big problems in the state's mechanism to move people into subsidized health marketplace coverage. That, again, probably makes Republican legislators happy. They took pains to block spending on people to guide consumers through a new and complicated process.
In one of Ramsey's reports, he says it all comes back to Hutchinson. Why, he asked, is the state imposing a 10-day response period that is wreaking havoc on the lives of eligible beneficiaries and creating a bureaucratic nightmare?
There is one plausible answer: The majority of Hutchinson's party likes the result —fewer people on Obamacare. Or they enjoy seeing poor people pay a cruel price for government help.
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