15 Kentuckians Sue Trump Admin Over New Medicaid Work Rules

on January 11, 2018 in Washington, DC.
President Donald Trump listens to Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (R) speak on January 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

In a class action federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, 15 low-income Kentucky residents enrolled in Medicaid sued the Trump administration for giving the state’s Republican governor a green light to impose work requirements and other eligibility restrictions on the health program.

The plaintiffs, Kentucky Medicaid recipients with ages ranging from 20 to 62, represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center and other advocacy groups, are accusing the administration of “threatening irreparable harm to the health and welfare of the poorest and most vulnerable in our country,” and demanding the court block the implementation of the new requirements.

The case is challenging the administration’s crusade for Medicaid work requirements on both its substance and its process, arguing that the new policies “sharply deviate from the congressionally-established requirements of the Medicaid program and vastly exceed any lawful exercise of the Secretary’s limited waiver authority.”

“States cannot impose additional eligibility requirements that are not explicitly allowed by the Medicaid Act,” the complaint states.

The groups are also calling out the way the Trump administration implemented the policy, noting that CMS Administrator Seema Verma’s letter to state Medicaid directors announcing her openness to approving work requirements “was not submitted for notice and comment, and was not published in the Federal Register.” Furthermore, Kentucky asked for the waiver back in 2016, under the Obama administration, and the public comment period for it closed long before the new guidelines were released.

By Kentucky’s own estimate, the new rules will lead to nearly 100,000 fewer people being enrolled in Medicaid. The state says this reduction will be due to Medicaid recipients finding jobs and switching to employer-sponsored insurance.

But the lawsuit argues that many people are much more likely to fall through the crack and go uninsured should the new regulations go into effect.

The oldest plaintiff, Ronnie Maurice Stewart, is a 62-year-old who suffers from diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure and vision problems and recently retired due to declining health. His Social Security retirement benefits are his only income, putting him well below the poverty line and making him eligible for Medicaid. The lawsuit states that Stewart is unlikely to be able to meet the new work requirements, and unlikely to be able to afford the new premiums the waiver imposes.

“It will mean that he cannot pay for other necessary expenses such as food and rent,” the complaint states.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is expected to hear the case sometime in the coming months.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

TPM Staff
Latest Dc
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: