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Round Two: Kentuckians Sue Trump Administration Again Over Re-Approved Work Requirements to Medicaid

Lawsuit Re-Filed in Federal Court, Challenging Newly Approved Work Requirements, After Same Court Ruled Last Year that Administration’s Action was “Arbitrary and Capricious”

WASHINGTON – More than a dozen Kentuckians enrolled in Medicaid re-filed their lawsuit against the Trump administration, challenging its re-approval of work requirements and unreasonable premiums to Kentucky’s Medicaid program.  The lawsuit comes after the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in June 2018, Kentucky’s effort to add work requirements to the state’s Medicaid program was “arbitrary and capricious.”

The Court vacated the approval and found the U.S. Department Health and Human Service failed to consider how the requirements would impact the estimated 95,000 Kentuckians that would be removed from Medicaid.  The federal government then reapproved the same request from Kentucky, with an effective date of April 1, 2019.  Plaintiffs refiled their lawsuit in the same court, and seek to have this new approval also declared to be arbitrary and capricious. 

The plaintiffs are represented by Kentucky Equal Justice Center (KEJC), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and National Health Law Program (NHeLP). Jenner & Block is counsel to NHeLP in this case.  A lawsuit is also pending over Arkansas’ approval of the state’s work requirements that has seen at least 17,000 people losing their Medicaid health coverage. 

SPLC Deputy Legal Director Samuel Brooke said, “The Trump administration’s desire to explode Medicaid and transform it into a work program seems to have no limits.  After being declared arbitrary and capricious last year, the administration has now issued a virtually identical re-approval letter; it should face a similar fate and be declared illegal.

“Unfortunately, the experience in Arkansas has shown us that we are right to fear that this added red tape will result in people going without care.  This is why we are seeking to block the Kentucky approval before it kicks some 95,000 Kentuckians off of the program.  Medicaid was intended to provide health coverage and care to the most vulnerable populations.  The approval of Kentucky’s work requirement is HHS’s attempt to re-write the Medicaid Act and abuse the Administration’s authority under the Constitution.

We will not be deterred. We will continue to defend the rights of individuals to access care through Kentucky’s Medicaid program.”

For the plaintiffs’ individual stories, see the complaint.