Court upholds injunction against HHS’ Medicaid work requirement

Feb. 14 (UPI) — A U.S. appeals court on Friday sided with a lower court ruling that blocked a Trump administration work requirement for Medicaid recipients to receive benefits, calling the government’s mandate “arbitrary and capricious.”

The Health and Human Services Department rule required Arkansas residents who receive Medicaid coverage must work for a certain number of hours, volunteer or be enrolled in school. About 18,000 beneficiaries lost coverage last year due to the rule.

A three-judge panel in Washington, D.C., ruled Friday the mandate violates federal law.

Seema Verma, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, argued the requirement rule helps lift people out of poverty by getting them into employer-provided insurance. Opponents disagree, saying it ignores real-world circumstances faced by Medicaid recipients.

“We are gratified by the court’s ruling today,” Jane Perkins, legal director of the National Health Law Program, said. “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.”

Kevin De Liban, attorney at Legal Aid of Arkansas, said the rule negatively impacted low-income individuals and families.

“The court recognized the tragic harm that these work requirements have caused people in Arkansas doing their best to get ahead,” De Liban said. “Now, more than 200,000 Arkansans on the program can rest easier knowing that they’ll have health care when they need it.”

The Trump administration is expected to appeal Friday’s decision.