The purge, as I am told and understand

Here is what I get this morning on the horrid private option purge, checking in with Human Services in light of reporting by David Ramsey of the Arkansas Times that you can get purged for having your income move 10 percent either way, even down, assuming you don’t meet the 10-day response deadline to object formally and argue differently:

The best way they tell it to me, and the best way I understand and can relate it, is with a made-up example.

If DHS has your income at, say, 100 percent of the federal poverty level, and you’re on the private option that extends to 138 percent of the poverty level, and then if a computerized crosscheck with data at Workforce Services has you at 140 percent of the poverty level, thus ineligible for the private option, then what we have there is a more than 10 percent difference that overlaps the threshold, making you eligible by one piece of data and ineligible by another, and so you get a letter.

If you don’t respond to argue that the 140 percent assertion is wrong, or give notice that you intend to so argue, then, after TWENTY days, meaning the basic 10 plus five allowed for mail delivery both ways and five allowed for the processing cluster at DHS, then, yes, by the end of the month, you’re off.

You could still appeal after that and, under federal law, get 90 days. I think.

Now, the governor’s office and DHS argue that this is nothing new — that annual income verification is required by federal law, that a new state law insisted upon by private-option favoring Republicans required the current “redetermination,” and that 10 days is the longstanding state standard.


What’s new is this mass one-time legislatively required redetermination. It’s one thing to do a deliberate and credible check each year when renewal time arrives for recipients. It’s another to send out tens of thousands of letters at once and purge 35,000 because you didn’t hear back.

I’m all for income verification. I don’t mind one-time “redetermination” if it’s done in an orderly way.

I do mind a hard deadline and jerking of health insurance because two state agencies have different sets of data and a guy didn’t respond because he didn’t get the letter or didn’t understand. Poor people move around. Poor people — like other people — are not universally fluent in bureaucratese.

All other factors aside, we are enduring this mean madness to try to accommodate the right-wing that just doesn’t like poor people or helping them.

Everyone has as much right as anyone else to get elected to the Legislature and get really good and cheap health insurance that way.

UPDATE: Oh, and about getting a verification letter if your income differential is more than 10 percent downward: Human Services spokesman Amy Webb says the computer software will indeed cause a “ping” for any 10 percent difference, even downward, but that you only get a letter if one of your reported incomes exceeds 138 percent of poverty. And if Human Services had someone at 140 percent of poverty, they would have been ineligible already. She says Human Services has not explained that well.

UPDATE TWO: David Ramsey, who knows this better than I and gets into the weeds more thoroughly, responds/amplifies on Twitter. I’ll just refer you to his Twitter feed.




7 Responses to 'The purge, as I am told and understand'

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  1. Some people are just plain overwhelmed trying to juggle the deluge of drama in their daily lives that they don’t have the energy to respond to another crisis.
    One more thing to deal with is often one more than they can handle.
    Or maybe they ar not mentally capable.

    Keep in mind we have a legal system not a justice system.

    John Kennedy

    10 Aug 15 at 12:35 pm

  2. If you care about Medicade and the Federal dollars supporting it in Arkansas, you would want the persons who are no longer eligible to be purged. Nothing that you have said or that has been published about this matter seems like it is unfair to anyone.
    Stop blaming everything that happens on the “mean right wing.”

    Robert H Seay

    10 Aug 15 at 12:48 pm

  3. Of course it is unfair.First of all the minimum notice time is 10 days. It could have been selected by the Gov to go up to 60 days. People move, don’t get to their mail right away and thus can’t respond in such a short time frame. Then old Asa cut 265 DHS workers and established a hiring freeze so that there are not enough workers to deal with the thousands of pleas/questions. This is a deliberate attempt by the right wing to try and cut ppl off and thus show the program is unsuccessful-which it is not…Shame on Asa playing to his Ayn Rand base.

    Ruth Pianalto

    10 Aug 15 at 1:10 pm

  4. We have a lot of people who can’t even begin to tell you the names and indications of the medications they take on a daily basis. Can we really believe that they would be able to comprehend the meaning of such a letter from DHS?


    10 Aug 15 at 5:56 pm

  5. delta: it is those poor people’s own fault they can’t understand their own medicine. don’t you see? it’s not the job of government to help them. don’t you see? we need personal responsibility and not a culture of dependence. don’t you see? i can talk that right-wing cant. don’t yous eee?


    11 Aug 15 at 9:00 am

  6. Robert… Nobody says there shouldn’t be income verification. What is wrong is the ten day period. Ol Asa tries to say it is the same as fed, but that is a lie. They only say a minimum of ten days. Huge difference.

    David smith

    10 Aug 15 at 10:36 pm

  7. Sir, to clarify, I agree. It would be nice if we could expect personal responsibility and accountability, but it’s hard to put toothpaste back in the tube. I’m a realist.


    11 Aug 15 at 9:44 am

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