The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the
The court found that it is “indisputably correct that the principal objective of Medicaid is providing health care coverage” and that work requirements for “able-bodied” people lack specific legal authorization. Moreover, the court ruled that administration officials failed to thoroughly examine the risk that some Medicaid recipients would lose coverage in approving
“Failure to consider whether the project will result in coverage loss is arbitrary and capricious,” Judge
“The text of the statute includes one primary purpose, which is providing health care coverage without any restriction geared to healthy outcomes, financial independence or transition to commercial coverage," wrote Sentelle, dismissing several justifications cited by the administration for work requirements.
Nearly 20 states are in various stages of trying to implement requirements, after the Trump administration invited states in 2017 to submit such proposals.
In a statement, the federal
“CMS remains steadfast in our commitment to considering proposals that would allow states to leverage innovative ideas,” the statement added.
“Arkansas implemented a work requirement in order to help recipients get worker training and job opportunities while receiving benefits," Hutchinson said. “It is difficult to understand how this purpose is inconsistent with federal law. The court’s ruling undermines broad public support for expanded health care coverage for those struggling financially.”
Advocates for low-income people called the decision a solid win.
“This really challenges all of the administration's theories,” said
The appeals court upheld an earlier ruling by U.S. District Judge
Medicaid is a
The Trump administration allowed states to require “able-bodied” adults drawing Medicaid benefits to work, volunteer or study. Officials argued that work can make people healthier.
Trump supports work requirements for safety-net programs across the government. He signed an executive order directing
Trump is also seeking to cap the federal government's share of Medicaid costs. Although that idea has failed to get traction in