(ConservativePeak.com) – Medicaid work requirements will not stand in Arkansas.
After a lower court ruled the Department of Health & Human Services didn’t have the authority to require some who are covered by Medicaid to work, attend school, volunteer or attend job training, a U.S. Court of Appeals panel made up of three judges agreed.
Judge David Sentelle, who wrote the opinion for the court in the case, said: “Failure to consider whether the project will result in coverage loss is arbitrary and capricious. We agree with the district court that the alternative objectives of better health outcomes and beneficiary independence are not consistent with Medicaid.The text of the statute includes one primary purpose, which is providing health care coverage without any restriction geared to healthy outcomes, financial independence or transition to commercial coverage.”
President Donald Trump’s administration signed the work requirements for Medicaid into law, which forced 18,000 residents of Arkansas to lose their health-care coverage. Arkansas was the only state in the U.S. where the work requirements went into effect at all. Federal judges also struct down the requirements in Kentucky and New Hampshire.
When the Affordable Care Act was passed under former President Barrack Obama, 10 million people classified as low-income earners gained access to Medicaid. Roughly 70 million people in America are covered by Medicaid currently.
But the Republican governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, hopes that the case will make its way all the way up to the Supreme Court. He believes the Trump administration’s goal with the work requirements were to help those who receive Medicaid get job opportunities while they were still receiving Medicaid benefits.
As Hutchinson said, “it is difficult to understand how this purpose is inconsistent with federal law. The court’s ruling undermines broad public support for expanded health coverage for those struggling financially.”
Jane Perkins, the legal director of The National Health Law Program, was happy to hear the appeals court upheld the lower court’s decision to overturn the work requirements.
“It means that thousands of low-income people in Arkansas will maintain their health insurance coverage — coverage that enables them to live, work and participate as fully as they can in their communities,” she said.
There is no official word yet about where the case will go from here. If Arkansas’ governor has his way, the fight will continue on to the Supreme Court, which would be the last hope for the Trump administration Medicaid work requirements to be deemed legal and enforceable.