Arkansas’ Medicaid program which features a work requirement has been struck down by a federal appeals court. On Friday, Feb. 14, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the Trump administration’s rule that allowed Arkansas and other states to place work requirements on individuals who receive Medicaid health benefits.
The appeals court unanimously upheld the findings of the original decision made by U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg in March 2019. This specific ruling concerns Arkansas’ work requirement but is likely to afffect other states as well.
In the Gresham v. Azar case, both appeals court and Boasberg ruled that the Arkansas Works work requirement was “arbitrary and capricious” because it did not address the main objective of the program, which is to provide medical care to needy individuals. According to Boasberg, the government’s failure to consider that objective is a “major shortcoming.”
Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a statement in response to the ruling, saying that the court’s ruling “undermines” health care coverage in Arkansas.
“Arkansas implemented a work requirement in order to help recipients get worker training and job opportunities while receiving benefits. It is difficult to understand how this purpose is inconsistent with federal law,” Hutchinson said. “The court’s ruling undermines broad public support for expanded health care coverage for those struggling financially. Arkansas Works has expanded access to health care coverage for low-income Arkansans. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will review today’s ruling, but as it stands the Arkansas Works program will be less effective in helping recipients gain independence.”