A federal judge has ruled against Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky and Arkansas, saying they’re contradictory to Medicaid’s purpose as a healthcare program.

U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg ruled against the measure the Trump administration put into place to limit the amount of people who can receive Medicaid. Trump’s cabinet justified the move as a way to motivate those on Medicaid to seek full-time jobs in order to better themselves. However studies have shown that even when Americans are working, it’s still almost impossible to survive on a low-wage pr part-time income, even with the aid of Medicaid and SNAP benefits.

In Arkansas, more than 18,000 adults working low-income jobs lost their health benefits due to being unable to meet the work requirements, which mandates a person log at least 80 hours of work per month in order to be eligible for benefits. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchison (R) stated he “was disappointed” in the ruling. The two-term governor inherited expanded Medicaid under the previous Democratic administration, and decreed the new work requirements be put into place.

Meanwhile in Kentucky, Governor Matt Bevin (R) has already threatened to undo the commonwealth’s Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act if a judge ruled against his work requirement mandate — which isn’t law just yet. Gov. Bevin wants to overhaul the Obamacare expansions in Kentucky (dubbed KYnect), which would reduce the number of those enrolled in Medicaid by 95,000.

If Bevin makes good on his threat to undo Medicaid altogether in the commonwealth, more than 400,000 low-income families could be without health benefits.

With the ruling made by Judge Boasberg — an Obama-era appointed U.S. District Judge out of the District of Columbia — the work requirement mandate will head back to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which will reconsider how much the work mandates poor individuals who work, but still can’t afford healthcare without government assistance.

Judge Boasberg previously ruled against Kentucky back on June 29th of last year, calling the work requirements “capricious and arbitrary.” That ruling stopped the regulation from being implemented the first time and was sent back to HHS, where it was approved with no changes. At this point, Kentucky hasn’t had the Medicaid work requirements be implemented.

Arkansas — on the other hand — has those work requirements already in place and will now have to cease enforcing the mandate until the HHS re-approves it: A huge relief for low-income families struggling to net the hours necessary to receive Medicaid.


Brandon Howard is a Grit Post contributor, auto worker, and former public radio reporter based out of Lexington, Kentucky. Follow him on Twitter @mrpowerhoward.

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