A coincidence of events on the matter of state services for the poor, who don’t enjoy much official favor in Arkansas these days:

* ALL SCREWED UP: The Democrat-Gazette rounded up comments at an extended complaint session yesterday before a legislative committee of slow pay and no pay by the state Department of Human Services to a variety of local providers of mental health and other services through Medicaid and other government grants. People haven’t received services. People have been laid off. Unpaid bills are piling up. DHS boss Cindy Gillespie acknowledged its system is slow and cumbersome.  And it’s complex. And there’s software. And. And. And. Do you think we should we anticipate this agency, an encyclopedia of bureaucratic failure for four years, to be “transformed” by a 2,000-page Hutchinson administration “transformation” bill?


* CORRECTING PAST WRONGS: Then there’s the state’s Medicaid work rule, struck down by a federal court, and the question about resuming Medicaid coverage for the 18,000 deprived. Many lost coverage more through fault of the DHS’s screwed-up reporting system than their own. The people who challenged this tragicomically implemented rule know better than ti depend on DHS to get the job done.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday there’s a meeting at the Willie Hinton Center on 12th Street by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, Legal Aid of Arkansas, the Urban League of Arkansas, and Philander Smith College’s Social Justice Institute to talk about the work rule and what happens next.


The program includes expert panelists Loretta Alexander, Marquita Little Numan, and Tamika Edwards. They will discuss the human impact of the loss of coverage for over 18,000 people, the reasons the requirements caused such widespread coverage loss, and proven measures to fight poverty and promote employment. Award-winning author Virginia Eubanks will deliver the keynote. Her 2018 book, “Automating Inequality,” examined the ways that governments use technology such as automated decision-making and algorithms to the disadvantage of people
in poverty.

Do tell.

Legal Aid will be onsite to help anyone who lost coverage. The people who were terminated can re-enroll, but they have to turn in a new application to DHS.