Trump administration sued over new Kentucky Medicaid work requirements

Trump administration sued over new Kentucky Medicaid work requirements
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More than a dozen Medicaid beneficiaries in Kentucky have filed another lawsuit against the Trump administration over its re-approval of the state’s controversial Medicaid waiver.

The lawsuit comes after a federal judge in June blocked Kentucky’s efforts to impose work requirements and premiums on beneficiaries days before the waiver was set to go into effect.

“The Secretary is working to effectively rewrite the Medicaid statute, ignoring congressional restrictions, overturning a half century of administrative practice, and threatening irreparable harm to the health and welfare of the poorest and most vulnerable in our country,” the complaint says.

A federal judge ruled in June 2018 that Kentucky’s effort to add work requirements to the state’s Medicaid program was “arbitrary and capricious.”

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Judge James Boasberg, an appointee of former President Obama with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, ruled that the administration never adequately considered whether the work requirements and other restrictions would violate the program's central purpose of providing medical assistance to vulnerable citizens.

The Trump administration then re-approved what was essentially the same request from Kentucky, having it go into effect on April 1, 2019.

Kentucky made no changes to the key features of the project; it continues to include work requirements, high premiums and cost sharing, as well as lockouts, termination of retroactive coverage and transportation for non-emergency medical care.

The 15 plaintiffs suing the administration now have filed their suit in the same federal court, and want to have the new Trump administration approval also declared to be arbitrary and capricious.

Kentucky’s waiver seeks to allow the state to deny coverage to any nondisabled adult who cannot prove they are working, volunteering or in school for at least 20 hours per week.

It also would charge premiums to low-income Medicaid recipients, eliminate full coverage of dental care, vision services, and over-the-counter medications for many adults.

The waiver also seeks to impose a six-month lockout period for people who fail to re-enroll in time or report a change in income.