A federal judge yesterday blocked Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky and Arkansas. In separate rulings, U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg said that the federal government did not justify that adding work requirements and other changes to Medicaid in the two states advanced the program’s purpose of providing health coverage.
"The Court cannot concur that the Medicaid Act leaves the [HHS] Secretary so unconstrained, nor that the states are so armed to refashion the program Congress designed in any way they choose," Boasberg wrote.
In Arkansas about 18,000 people have lost coverage because of the new requirements. The Kentucky requirements have not gone into effect yet. Six other states have received approval from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to begin work requirements and another seven are seeking CMS approval.
In a statement following the ruling CMS Administrator Seema Verma said, “We will continue to defend our efforts to give states greater flexibility to help low-income Americans rise out of poverty. We believe, as have numerous past administrations, that states are the laboratories of democracy and we will vigorously support their innovative, state-driven efforts to develop and test reforms that will advance the objectives of the Medicaid program.”

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