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Capitol Correspondence - 07.02.18

Federal Judge Voids Kentucky’s Medicaid Work Requirement

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According to The Hill:

“A federal judge has blocked a controversial Medicaid waiver in Kentucky that was set to go into effect Sunday and would have imposed work requirements on beneficiaries.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg of the District of Columbia ruled that the waiver needs to be sent back to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).”

The ruling is available online and, among other legal arguments, finds that by allowing work requirements, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ignored the intent of Medicaid. In summary, the Court finds that by focusing on whether the Kentucky proposal met the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, instead of the goals of Medicaid, HHS misapplied the law. The court states:

“As previously explained, [the Secretary of HHS] evaluated whether Kentucky HEALTH, as a whole, was likely to promote the objectives of the [Patient Protection and Affordable Care] Act, but he did so while neglecting the primary objective of the Medicaid program. When an agency exercises discretion using the wrong legal standard, its action cannot survive. See SEC v. Chenery Corp., 55 318 U.S. 80, 94 (1943) (“[A]n [agency] order may not stand if the agency has misconceived the law.”); see also Fox, 556 U.S. at 562 (“The agency’s failure to discuss . . . two ‘important aspect[s] of the problem’ means that the resulting decision is ‘arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion’ requiring us to remand the matter to the agency”) (citation omitted). The Court must therefore hold the approval of Kentucky HEALTH invalid in toto. In doing so, it grants Plaintiffs full relief.”

ANCOR will continue its coverage of this issue as the implications of this decision for other states with Medicaid work requirements becomes clearer in the future.