Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear an appeal of court orders invalidating the Arkansas rule requiring work or volunteer service by able-bodied adults seeking Medicaid coverage.

A Washington court struck down approval of the work rule in Arkansas (and also in Kentucky). A federal court of appeals also said the Secretary of Health and Human Services had erred in approving the so-called “demonstration project” as a requirement for Medicaid.


The Supreme Court added the consolidated cases to its agenda at a conference today.

Said Rutledge: “I am pleased the U.S. Supreme Court will hear our case on why the requirements under Arkansas Works are necessary to build a better future for Arkansans.”


During its short life, the so-called Arkansas Works program was marred by startup difficulties, beginning with required computer use in a state woefully ill-equipped. Studies have indicated it didn’t help people get work, but it undeniably reduced the number of people with health coverage, which comes with unhealthy, even deadly, consequences.

Is a decision to hear this case is a reflection of the new conservative majority. We should hope note. While deferential to state legislatures, this case is a matter of interpreting federal law. For years, the precedent has been that Medicaid was designed for one purpose, to provide health care for poor and disabled people.


But of course Asa is happy:

I am grateful the U.S. Supreme Court will weigh the merits of this case. The ability of a state to conduct Medicaid demonstration projects like Arkansas Works is of national significance. It has always been our goal to provide healthcare to an expanded population of Arkansans while also providing tools for them to achieve economic stability and independence.”