STATE PLAN NEEDS WORK: Seema Verma, Trump administration Medicaid administrator, is a supporter of work rules for Medicaid but even so says Arkansas's ;lan to evaluate its program is lacking.

Here’s an important report from Benji Hardy for the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network on the success of the Arkansas rule to require work by those who receive Medicaid coverage. Bottom line: Even the Trump administration says the state has fallen short in establishing a way to demonstrate the promised better health and pathway to prosperity promised by backers of the rule.

The Trump administration, which is supportive of work rules, has yet to approve Arkansas’s design for evaluating the benefits of the program, from which 8,500 have already been dropped, with thousands more likely.

Advertisement


The CMS said the state’s proposed “evaluation outcomes are not well defined and outcome measures are not specified,” among other flaws. That means Arkansas is likely many months away from beginning to evaluate the work requirement policy, despite the fact that it has terminated coverage for at least 8,500 Medicaid beneficiaries in the last two months alone.

No previous work rule for any type of welfare program has been found in a scientific evaluation to prove useful in lifting people out of poverty or encouraging better behavior. I see no reason to expect better from Arkansas. It operates on faith alone, that taking a pound of flesh out of the poor will make them healthier, more productive citizens. It’s the same thinking that holds that beating a child hard enough will improve behavior and produce peace-loving adults.

As Hardy’s article notes, the Arkansas evaluation proposal made no mention of testing health outcomes. Said Judy Solomon of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities:

Advertisement

Arkansas’s draft “[doesn’t] even raise the question of, ‘Well, maybe if we’re taking coverage away from people, it’s going to make them less able to work, or it’s going to make them less healthy.’ … Why are they looking at this like it’s not a health program?”

Medicaid, FYI, is a health program. It is not a work program.

See the news last night of new plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the work rule about the obstacles presented by the state’s computerized reporting system and the continuing health problems some supposedly work-capable people still find in hanging onto their Medicaid coverage.

Advertisement