Headlines this morning show Arkansas leading the way, not necessarily in exemplary fashion. The Medicaid work rule is one; a new law to speed up state capture of unclaimed retirement accounts is another.

MEDICAID WORK RULE


In New Hampshire, where a work rule is under consideration for expanded Medicaid coverage, proponents contend they’ll do better than Arkansas, nationally famous now for its botched outreach to those covered on the work rule. (The work requirement itself is illegal, a judge has ruled, never mind the cluster**** that ensued in the reporting.) From the Union-Leader

“Some of the proponents of this bill have said they’re concerned about situations that occurred in Arkansas,” says state Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, one of the chief architects of the work requirement and expanded Medicaid compromise.

“From what I understand, the reason for that was more of an administrative and technical failure … that people had a hard time complying because they didn’t know how to comply.”

Bradley says DHHS Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers has gone to great lengths to prepare his agency to avoid such outcomes. The department held a series of meetings to brief Medicaid recipients, but those were poorly attended.

“Our (health and human services) department has learned from Arkansas and has created multiple ways for people to be able to comply with the requirements,” he said.

The New Hampshire work requirement reporting does not even require third-party verification, said Bradley.

“Any individual can self-attest to what their work hours were,” he said. “That’s a major protection.”

Democrats in the state Senate argue that one of the elements of the quid pro quo with Republicans was that people would not be kicked off Medicaid in large numbers because of the work requirement.

The bill that passed the state Senate on Thursday would terminate the work requirement if it resulted in more than 500 people losing their coverage.

RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS


The Morning Consult reports on a little-noticed new law from the current Arkansas legislative session.

Arkansas has shortened the wait before it can claim abandoned retirement accounts and other assets, a move that some mutual fund industry and consumer advocate groups worry could prompt other states to follow suit and potentially upend consumers’ retirement plans.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on March 15 signed into law a measure eliminating a three-year waiting period before the state can liquidate bonds, mutual fund accounts or bank deposits that have been dormant for seven years. Other states typically need to try to find the owner of the assets for a set period, ranging from several months to several years, before claiming the funds.

The Arkansas law, which passed with broad support from the state Legislature, could mobilize similar efforts elsewhere in the country, especially if the measure faces no legal challenges or public outcry, according to the Investment Company Institute, a trade group for the mutual funds industry.

“We’re concerned it’s the start of a national trend,” said Tami Salmon, assistant general counsel at the Investment Company Institute.

Arkansas, which has some $280 million in unclaimed assets, defends the law change because of the seven-year dormancy period and notes some other states can move more quickly to claim assets. Perhaps so. Nonetheless, there we are in the headlines again.

PS: Arkansas Business reviewed this issue shortly before the bill was approved.