hello again mike.
after I had more of a chance to test this, I have found that active bodies collide into the skinned model just fine.
for instance, i can get the model to catch a falling ball in its hand.
however i cannot get the rig to "push" the active bodies as you described.. I will continue to troubleshoot this scenario.
although i expect a solution from one of the many friendly and knowlegable simplymaya users will surface before I get this one figured out.