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Court Rejects Arkansas, Kentucky Work Requirements

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has invalidated Section 1115 waivers in Arkansas and Kentucky that included work requirements, halting their implementation and enforcement.

The court ruled that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) overstepped its authority and failed to show that work requirements would help promote the purpose of the Medicaid program: furnishing medical assistance to eligible individuals. As a result, Arkansas is no longer authorized to enforce its work requirements, which went into effect in June 2018, and Kentucky will not be able to begin scheduled enforcement on July 1.

Nine states have received federal approval to implement Medicaid work requirements, but only Arkansas has implemented the requirements.

The same court issued a similar ruling in June 2018, remanding the issue of Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky back to HHS for further consideration of impact.

HHS and the states are expected to appeal the court’s decision. A hearing on the status of the litigation is scheduled for April 10.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.

About the Author

Rachel Schwartz is a former policy associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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