The Trump administration on Wednesday appealed last month’s decisions by a federal judge that struck down work requirements and other tougher eligibility standards for Medicaid recipients in Kentucky and Arkansas.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and other federal health officials, who are defendants in a lawsuit challenging the states’ new Medicaid rules, have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the cases.
Twice in the last year, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C. has rejected Bevin’s Kentucky HEALTH proposal and returned it to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for further consideration. States cannot refashion Medicaid “in any way they choose,” Boasberg wrote in his most recent order March 27. By law, Medicaid must promote health coverage for people, not deny it on an arbitrary and capricious basis, he said.
Kentucky’s new rules for several hundred thousand able-bodied Medicaid recipients were supposed to have begun April 1.
Sixteen Kentucky Medicaid recipients sued the federal government in January to prevent Bevin from adding 80-hour-a-month work, study or volunteer requirements; premiums; monthly reporting duties; and six-month coverage lock-out periods for failing to cooperate for able-bodied adults who are enrolled in the state’s $9.7 billion-a-year Medicaid program.
Some of the same Medicaid recipients prevailed over Bevin in an earlier version of the suit last year, but Bevin made minor changes to his Kentucky HEALTH proposal and resubmitted it to HHS for re-approval.
Bevin repeatedly has threatened to terminate Kentucky’s expanded Medicaid program for more than 400,000 low-income adults if the courts prevent him from going forward with the tougher eligibility rules of Kentucky HEALTH.