Advocacy groups filed the first lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s efforts to overhaul Medicaid by allowing states to require some beneficiaries to work or pursue jobs.
The suit, filed in federal court in Washington on behalf of more than a dozen Kentucky Medicaid recipients, seeks class-action status to halt changes to the state’s Medicaid program that the administration approved this month. It says the changes go beyond what’s allowed under current Medicaid law and regulations and were imposed without following appropriate government processes.
Kentucky was the first state cleared to shift its Medicaid program in a more conservative direction, after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said this month it would let states require some Medicaid recipients to prove they are working, training for a job, or volunteering as a condition of gaining coverage.
Nine other states have asked Washington to let them make similar changes, adding to the significance of the first legal clash.
In Kentucky, about 1.3 million people are covered by Medicaid, after the state expanded eligibility under the Affordable Care Act under a Democratic governor. Republican Governor Matt Bevin, elected in 2015, has been pushing to reduce the rolls. He said in an interview after the changes were approved that work requirements fit with the purpose of Medicaid.
“If you read what the purpose of Medicaid is, it’s to get people engaged and to create work opportunities,” Bevin said in a Jan. 16 interview. “When Medicaid was originally designed, it was designed to help assimilate disabled people back into society to the absolute extent possible, to create work opportunities. These are some of the underlying tenets of Medicaid for the traditional Medicaid population.”