Josh Mahony, the Democrat who ran for 3rd District Congress this year, has posted a video on Twitter that illustrates one of the many flaws in  the system by which Arkansas first mandated computer-only reporting to qualify for expanded Medicaid coverage. If you have a computer, have access, have e-mail and can figure out the process, you still might be stymied by not having an up to date browser.

You do regularly update the software on your computer don’t you? No problem with your home WiFi and its link to a high-speed Internet connection in Bodcaw, right?

Brandon Chase Goldsmith, who illustrates the problem in the Twitter video, also has written about problems with the system in an op-ed in the Fort Smith newspaper. Gov. Asa Hutchinson would undoubtedly dismiss it as more unfounded bellyaching by the undeserving layabouts on welfare, but you might give it a look.

A few months later while reporting my work, I received a “SYSTEM FAILURE NOTICE.” After several attempts I called their helpline. They told me the system was down, because it could not handle all the traffic. So, I asked if I could report my work over the phone. They said they could not help me and I would have to wait for the system to come back online. The network errors were not resolved before the reporting period had past. Consequently, I was unable to report my work in time, not because I did not try, but because their system was down. Additionally, if they had issued extension notices, I would not have received one because my contact information was incorrect. I tried multiple times to update it, but each time received a “SYSTEM FAILURE NOTICE.” I called the helpline and they were able to fix my mailing address, but in the process they messed up my email address.

As I write this column, I am attempting once again to correct my email, but keep receiving the same “SYSTEM FAILURE NOTICE.” Based on my experiences, I can tell you this part of Arkansas Works’ application has never worked. If people are unable to update their contact information, how will they receive non-compliance or other important notices?

I am an experienced professional with easy access to computers and the Internet, but I continue to have browser issues. “Your browser is not compatible with the Arkansas Healthcare Independence Program application.” Laptop memory problems have hindered my ability to perform the required Safari upgrades, but fortunately, I also have Google Chrome, which works. The state is forcing people to have the most recent versions of browsers to even open their site. This potentially denies access to the system by people with older computers with outdated operating systems, and individuals with limited computer knowledge.

Chase, an adjunct faculty member at UA-Fort Smith, notes the state has now relented in face of worldwide criticism and provided some telephone assistance. But he also notes:

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However, the state still has not given an extension to the possibly thousands of people who were not able to report their work due to the multitude of systemic failures and errors that have and continue to exist in Arkansas Work’s online architecture.