Friday, February 14, 2020

Federal appeals court strikes down Medicaid work requirements

Gov. Matt Bevin announced his plan in 2016. (WFPL photo)
A federal appeals court ruled Friday against the work requirements that then-Gov. Matt Bevin tried to impose on Medicaid enrollees who were not "medically frail" and had no dependents.

The Trump administration was arbitrary and capricious when it approved Bevin's plan and one in Arkansas, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled unanimously.

The U.S. Department for Health and Human Services essentially ignored the main purpose of Medicaid, which “was to provide health-care coverage to populations that otherwise could not afford it,” wrote Senior Judge David Sentelle, who was appointed to the court by Ronald Reagan.  The Trump administration is expected to ask the Supreme Court to hear the case.

The ruling upheld several by a judge in the D.C. District Court, which scuttled a program Arkansas had started and kept Kentucky's from taking effect. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, who defeated Bevin in the November election, rescinded Kentucky's plan soon after taking office in December. Republicans control the state legislature but have shown no interest in enacting Bevin's plan.

The plan had been challenged by 16 Medicaid beneficiaries in the state, who noted the Bevin administration's initial forecast that Kentucky Medicaid rolls would have 95,000 fewer people in five years than without the plan, in large measure because of noncompliance with the requirements to work, attend school or perform community service 80 hours a month and report monthly.

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