News & Perspectives

Federal judge blocks approval of work requirements in expanded Medicaid programs of AR and KY

3. April 2019 Sam Fish Health

On March 27, 2019, Federal District Court Judge James E. Boasberg, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, issued two comprehensive decisions blocking work requirements that had been approved for the expanded Medicaid programs of Arkansas and Kentucky by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

The cases are Gresham, et al v. Azar, Civil Action No. 18-1900 (JEB) (March 27, 2019) for Arkansas and Stewart v. Azar, No. 18-152 Slip Opinion (March 27, 2019) (Stewart II) for Kentucky. 

HHS had approved section 1115 of the Social Security Act (SSA) Demonstration Projects submitted by Arkansas and Kentucky, imposing the work requirements in the expanded Medicaid programs of both States.

In his detailed decision in the Arkansas case, Judge Boasberg concluded as follows:

“In sum, the Secretary’s (of HHS) approval of the Arkansas Work Amendment is arbitrary and capricious because it did not address—despite receiving substantial comments on the matter—whether and how the project would implicate the ‘core’ objective of Medicaid: the provision of medical coverage to the needy.”  The Judge added: “the Arkansas Work Amendment cannot stand.”