Federal Judge Blocks Bevin-Backed Work Requirements For Medicaid Recipients

Posted at 3:54 PM, Jun 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-29 15:54:38-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LEX 18/AP) — A federal judge has blocked plans by Gov. Matt Bevin and his legislative allies to make fundamental changes to the state’s Medicaid program — including controversial work requirements — that were set to go into effect this weekend.

U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg granted a summary judgment Friday in favor of plaintiffs fighting the changes, while denying the defendants’ cross-motions for a summary judgment in the case.

The judge’s ruling, released Friday, effectively blocks the plan to require that people who receive Medicaid  work, volunteer or lose their coverage.

Boasberg ruled the Trump administration did not adequately consider whether the work requirements and other changes would help the state give its residents access to health care. Because of that, Boasberg said the Trump administration’s decision was "arbitrary and capricious."

Kentucky was the first state in the country approved to require some of its Medicaid recipients get a job or do some other type of work to keep their Medicaid benefits. The new rules were scheduled to take effect Sunday.

Bevin has vowed to eliminate Medicaid coverage for more than 400,000 people if his proposal is ultimately struck down.

The plan, a pilot project known as Kentucky HEALTH that was approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was to go into effect Sunday.

Opponents argued that this made it more difficult for vulnerable individuals to receive coverage. Fifteen current Kentucky residents who receive Medicaid are plaintiffs in the case.

"Together, they fear that Kentucky HEALTH will relegate them to second-class status within Medicaid, putting them and others ‘in danger of losing’ their health insurance altogether," Boasberg writes in the decision.

Boasberg’s decision vacates the approval of Kentucky HEALTH and send the matter back to the federal Department of Health and Human Services for further consideration.

Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Ben Self celebrated the rulng.

“Reason has prevailed once again against Gov. Bevin and the Republican majority’s attack on everyday Kentuckians,” Self said in a statement. “Bevin’s work requirements for Medicaid recipients was not only immoral but goes against who our leaders should stand up for and who we are as Kentuckians.”

Read the full opinion below: