The unanimous decision, written by Judge David Sentelle, in charge of Reagan, confirmed a district court ruling that the administration failed to analyze whether such programs would “promote Medicaid’s primary goal – to provide medical care”.
Friday’s ruling specifically applies to Arkansas, where more than 18,000 people lost coverage in 2018 before the court intervened. The district court had also canceled the Kentucky approval, which blocked the implementation of the job requirements there. However, Kentucky closed its waiver after a Democratic governor won the election last November and rejected his appeal.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, which respond to requests, “are reviewing and evaluating the opinion and determining the next steps,” said a spokesman. “The CMS remains firm in our commitment to consider proposals that allow states to exploit innovative ideas.”
The administration claims that requiring people to work, volunteer or participate in professional training will improve their health and is therefore in line with Medicaid’s mission.
The appellate court ruling, however, said that “Medicaid’s main objective is to provide access to medical care.” The Medicaid statue does not mention alternative goals, such as “improving health outcomes,” as the administration cited in its endorsements.
“The text of the statute includes a primary purpose, which is to provide health coverage without any limitation geared to healthy outcomes, financial independence or a switch to commercial coverage,” Sentelle wrote.
The lawsuit was filed by the National Health Law Program, along with Legal Aid of Arkansas, Southern Poverty Law Center and Jenner & Block.
“This is a victory for thousands of Americans who can now continue to have access to health coverage and healthcare,” said Ian Heath Gershengorn, partner of Jenner & Block and board member of the National Health Law Program who supported the case.