A federal district court has struck down Kentucky’s new work requirement for certain adult recipients of Medicaid expansion. Arkansas began imposing a similar requirement in June.

UPDATE: Arkansas Department of Human Services spokesperson Amy Webb told the Arkansas Times that the work requirement program in Arkansas will continue as planned. “Our attorneys are reviewing the decision. It doesn’t affect our rollout,” she wrote in an email.


Pay attention:

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg sided with the dozen-plus low-income Kentuckians who challenged the new rules, and said that the Trump administration acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner by approving them.

“The Secretary never adequately considered whether Kentucky HEALTH would in fact help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid,” Boasberg wrote.

This is precisely the argument that has been made by people talking of suing over the Arkansas work requirement. The program is supposed to advance medical coverage for the needy, not make it harder.


Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin had threatened to shut down the program if the judge ruled this way.

The Arkansas program, which began June 1, is taking effect gradually and won’t apply to everyone on the Medicaid program. It applies to adults ages 30-49 in 2018 and will expand to include adults ages 19-29 in 2019; those on disability Medicaid would be excluded, and large numbers of working-age adults would also be exempt. About 69,000 would be covered by the rule when it is fully in effect.


Criticism has arisen not only over the work rule, but the fact that irregular and seasonal workers could find themselves ineligible, despite trying to get work. Also, participants are able to prove eligibility only through online contact with the state. Arkansas has the second-lowest level of Internet access in the country and access is presumably even worse at the lower end of the economic spectrum.

From Talking Points Memo:

The ruling by Boasberg comes on the heels of a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation that found that as many as four million people would lose their coverage if similar rules were adopted nationwide. The majority of those people, Kaiser found, would be people who are working but who have difficulty navigating the system of documenting and reporting that work to the state.