United States appeals panel upholds block of Medicaid work requirements

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks to reporters in Little Rock Ark. A federal appeals court panel in Washington has upheld a lower court's decision that blocked the Trump administration's work requirements for M

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks to reporters in Little Rock Ark. A federal appeals court panel in Washington has upheld a lower court's decision that blocked the Trump administration's work requirements for M

The federal appeals court reasoned Congress did not amend Medicaid to require proof of work while considering two other welfare programs that did mandate the work standards.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington had voided programs in Kentucky and Arkansas programs in simultaneous rulings on March 27, finding that HHS's impact analysis, required in federal rulemaking, was inadequate. More than 10 million people have gained coverage as a result. Moreover, the court ruled that administration officials failed to thoroughly examine the risk that some Medicaid recipients would lose coverage in approving Arkansas' experiment with work requirements. More than 18,000 people lost coverage in Arkansas during its partial implementation.

"The text of the statute includes one primary goal, which is providing health-care coverage without any restriction geared to healthy outcomes, financial independence or transition to commercial coverage", Circuit Judge David Sentelle, a Reagan appointee, wrote for a unanimous panel that also included Circuit Judges Nina Pillard and Harry Edwards, both Democratic appointees.

Kentucky, under a new, Democratic governor, dropped its work requirement on December 16 and asked the court to dismiss its appeal without affecting any others.

"CMS remains steadfast in our commitment to considering proposals that would allow states to leverage innovative ideas", the statement added.

"The court recognized the tragic harm that these work requirements have caused people in Arkansas doing their best to get ahead", De Liban said.

Advocates for low-income people called the decision a solid win.

The decision will nearly certainly be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. "Whatever yarn they spin, this really reins them in".

Judge Cornelia Pillard, an Obama appointee, and Judge Harry T. Edwards, a Carter appointee, joined the ruling.

Why it matters: Medicaid covers about 70 million people - more than Medicare. But in 2010, Congress expanded the program to low-income adults that didn't fit the previous categories.

A USA appeals court on Friday sided with a lower court ruling that blocked a Trump administration work requirement for Medicaid recipients to receive benefits, calling the government's mandate "arbitrary and capricious".

The National Health Law Program, along with Legal Aid of Arkansas, the Southern Poverty Law Center and, Jenner & Block, brought the case on behalf of Medicaid enrollees affected by the work requirement.

Trump supports work requirements for safety-net programs across the government.

Trump is also seeking to cap the federal government's share of Medicaid costs.

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