Judge Blocks Work Requirement for Medicaid in Kentucky



TV personality, podcast host, and author Adam Carolla has marveled many times that believing one should work for what one gets has resulted in him being branded a conservative.


If Carolla’s labelling is accurate, call this an anti-conservative injunction: a federal judge has put a stop to a measure in Kentucky that was set to take effect Sunday. Beginning July 1st, able-bodied Medicaid recipients would have been hit with work requirements.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg thwarted that plan, ruling that the Trump White House failed to consider whether such an imposition violated the whole idea of Medicaid.

“The Secretary never adequately considered whether Kentucky HEALTH would in fact help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid. This signal omission renders his determination arbitrary and capricious.”

(Surely this guy was happy).

The administration’s alteration had come by way of a waiver, which was sent back to the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), via Boasberg, for additional review.

Judge James — who was appointed by Obama — certainly threw a wrench into President Trump’s intention to reform Medicaid. Seema Verma, CMS administrator, was none too pleased with the judge:

“States are the laboratories of democracy and numerous administrations have looked to them to develop and test reforms that have advanced the objectives of the Medicaid program. The Trump Administration is no different.”


Verma remains undeterred:

“[CMS is] conferring with the Department of Justice to chart a path forward. In the meantime, we will continue to support innovative, state-driven policies that are designed to advance the objectives of the Medicaid program by improving health outcomes for thousands of low-income Americans.”

Activists had sued the Trump administration for giving the waiver the green light. The National Health Law Program’s senior attorney, Catherine McKee, relished the ruling:

“There is a reason why no previous administration has approved the severe provisions Kentucky is so bent on pressing – they do not furnish health care services. Instead they punish the very populations Medicaid is intended to protect.”

The judge considered the waiver one heck of an oversight:

“At bottom, the record shows that 95,000 people would lose Medicaid coverage, and yet the Secretary paid no attention to that deprivation. Nor did he address how Kentucky HEALTH would otherwise help ‘furnish… medical assistance.'”

Nonetheless, nearly a dozen states are eyeing a similar requirement for participants in the program. Surely they will face opponents similar to those in Kentucky, who celebrated Friday’s ruling via a statement by Frederick Isasi, executive director of Families USA:

“Today’s win means that at least 100,000 Kentucky residents will continue to be able to see their doctors, stay healthy, and take care of their families. Today’s court decision emphasizes Medicaid’s mission: Medicaid is about health insurance. Period”


Of course, the real question is, how many of those 100,000 are currently abusing the system (like this guy will probably do)? There are, without a doubt, some people who cannot work. But good grief, I see people using food stamps at the grocery store and then buying a carton of cigarettes. I doubt they’re paying for their own insurance.


What are your thought on the judge’s ruling?

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