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Federal Judge Blocks Arkansas’ Medicaid Work Requirement

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has blocked the Medicaid work requirement approved by the Trump administration in Arkansas.

Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled Wednesday afternoon in two separate cases that the Trump administration didn’t consider whether the work requirements met the objective of Medicaid, which is to provide coverage to the poor.

Arkansas was the first in the nation to implement a work requirement program for Medicaid recipients, followed by Kentucky. More than 18,000 have reportedly lost coverage in Arkansas since the program took effect last summer. Kentucky’s program has yet to take effect and has been rejected once before by Boasberg.

The Department of Health and Human Services, under the leadership of Secretary Alex Azar, approved the programs, arguing that it improves health outcomes by encouraging people to work.

Boasberg wrote in his decisions Wednesday that the Trump administration did not meet Medicaid’s purpose of providing health insurance to the needy.

Read more: Off the Rolls-Arkansas’ Medicaid Work Requirement 

“Rather than adequately addressing Kentucky HEALTH’s potential to cause loss of medical coverage, the secretary continues to press his contention that the program promotes his alternative proposed objectives of beneficiary health, financial independence and the fiscal sustainability of Medicaid,” Boasberg wrote in the Kentucky opinion.
In a statement released after Boasberg’s decision was announced, Gov. Asa Hutchinson expressed his disappointment.
“I am disappointed in the decision handed down late this afternoon,” Hutchinson said. “I have not yet had the opportunity to review the opinion in its entirety, but I plan to do so this evening and provide further comment tomorrow morning on the future of the Arkansas Works work requirement.”
The governor will hold a news conference on Thursday, March 28, at 11 a.m. to formally address the ruling.

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