WORK RULE ISN'T WORKING: So says a federal advisory panel. KUAR/Michael Hibblen

A federal advisory group says Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s enforcement of a work rule for those with Medicaid expansion coverage has been a flop and suggests the state should slow down booting more from coverage. From Bloomberg

Advisers to Donald Trump want him to hold off on pushing work rules in other states because of problems evident in Arkansas.

Members of the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission also want Arkansas, the first state to roll out the sweeping eligibility overhaul, to slow down implementation while they build in more safeguards for beneficiaries.

Implementation of sweeping Medicaid overhauls is always difficult but less so with more time and more data, Commissioner Christopher Gorton said. Gorton is the former president of public plans at Tufts Health Plan.

“Let’s do it right,” he said. “Let’s hit the pause button, not forever or in response to what we’re seeing in Arkansas, simply because we’re not ready to dance here.”

…MACPAC warned in its strongest stance to date that Arkansas’ work rules experiment is plagued by design holes. The gaps mean it’s just not working well, commissioners said. They cited concerns over the state’s imposition of dramatic changes in a very short time period and its requirement that beneficiaries report their hours online in a state with limited internet access.

The Natural State booted nearly 8,500 from Medicaid since this summer for failing to comply with the work rules, according to Oct. 15 figures from the Arkansas Department of Human Services. That’s out of the 73,266 people subject to the rules in the state.

Commissioner Alan Weil said at the Oct. 25 meeting that it is “very difficult” for him “to simply say we’re going to wait, we’re going to see how many more people lose coverage.”

A lawsuit is pending to enjoin the Arkansas work rule. Meanwhile, it won’t be long before the figures in October are in and another 4,000 or so people will be dropped from Medicaid coverage. Deadbeats? Unaware of the rule? Lacking in computer access, the only way to report work or volunteer status? Arkansas doesn’t know and it doesn’t care. It’s punishing poor people and cutting government spending every time somebody is dropped from coverage. Should many get sick or die as a result, well, they just should have worked harder and gotten an iPhone.