One of the 12,000 people in Arkansas who have been summarily kicked off of Medicaid and who are suing the state over it is Adrian McGonigal. Ironically, this formerly full-time worker ultimately lost his job over the state's work requirement. The Washington Post's Catherine Rampell features McGonigal in a story about how badly the new requirement is harming the people it purports to help.
McGonigal worked full time at a chicken plant, despite having the chronic lung disease COPD. The disease was managed by prescription medication that was funded by Medicaid he qualified for under the state's expansion plan. He says he didn't get clear information on how to report his work. "Like many I spoke with, McGonigal says he got confusing and sometimes conflicting information from the state's Department of Human Services, which told him to report online," Rampell writes. "He doesn't have a cellphone or computer, so he borrowed his sister-in-law's smartphone."
"I thought that everything was good," he told me in an interview for The Post and "PBS NewsHour." "I thought it was just a one-time deal that you reported it, and then that was it."
The state requires enrollees to report every month, but didn't communicate that to McGonigal. He didn't find out that he had been dropped until he tried to fill his COPD prescription and was told he no longer had coverage. Without the medication, he ended up in the emergency room and missed work. "I tried to stick it out, and still go to work, but I just couldn't do it," he said. He was laid off. Losing Medicaid coverage made him lose his job.
Here's one of the real kickers to what Arkansas is doing: Enrollees are required to report their hours online, a cost-saving measure by the state to avoid hiring more staff to take the reports by phone, in person, or through the mail. But this: "Most indefensibly, the website shuts down every single night between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. for 'scheduled maintenance.'"
That's just cruel. And likely unconstitutional, as McGonigal seeks to prove.