In 2016, the Commonwealth of Kentucky sought permission to impose new Medicaid eligibility conditions including a work requirement, monthly premiums up to 4% of income, coverage lockouts for failure to timely renew eligibility or timely report a change in circumstances, and other provisions. The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) approved those changes earlier this year with an effective date of July 1, 2018.
A group of Medicaid beneficiaries filed suit in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C. seeking to block the new eligibility rules, arguing that HHS’s decision was made without regard for the impact the new conditions would have on vulnerable communities throughout Kentucky.
Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell LLP (FTLF) is proud to have authored an amicus brief in support of the Medicaid beneficiaries, in this case, Stewart v. Azar. In collaboration with 43 Deans, chairs, and scholars from universities across the country, the “Scholars’ Brief” urged the Court to protect the right of hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians to receive medical assistance under the Commonwealth’s Medicaid program.
Thankfully, U.S. District Judge James E. Boaseberg agreed with arguments set forth in our brief, ruling that the federal officials who approved the Medicaid restrictions in Kentucky did not adequately consider whether the Commonwealth’s restrictive Medicaid proposal “would in fact help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid….This signal omission renders the determination arbitrary and capricious.”
Judge Boaseberg blocked Kentucky’s implementation of the new restrictions and sent the matter back to HHS for further proceedings. HHS has since reopened Kentucky’s application and will conduct a new notice and comment period; it is likely that the Secretary will approve a new package of Medicaid eligibility restrictions in Kentucky. You can read more about the decision and its implications here and here.
FTLF will monitor new developments in Kentucky and other states as they seek and obtain HHS waivers to restrict Medicaid eligibility or coverage and continue to support efforts to protect the Medicaid program and other key components of the health care safety net.
For questions about Stewart v. Azar or Medicaid waivers, please contact Phillip Escoriaza at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.