Low-Income Kentucky Residents Sue Trump Administration Over Big Changes to Medicaid
Medicaid patients have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for forcing work requirements on some Medicaid enrollees.
The new requirement requires some Medicaid patients to work or volunteer in order to keep their health coverage. Kentucky is the first state to get approval from the Trump administration for work requirements. At least nine other states are currently seeking approval for this change.
Kentucky will also be able to charge Medicaid patients monthly premiums for their coverage.
The lawsuit claims the work requirements violate federal law that says Medicaid is only a health plan and doesn’t allow for requirements imposed by other federal programs, like food stamps, that participants have to have a job. It also claims many of the 15 plaintiffs suffer from various health problems and have jobs with fluctuating hours, which makes it tough for them to report their work hours in order to keep their health coverage.
Two plaintiffs in the lawsuit, a Berea Church administrator and his wife, a freelance writer, bring home about $22,500 a year. They only work part-time so that they can homeschool their kids. They said they’re worried about losing their health coverage if they can’t verify the 20-hour a week work requirement.
Another plaintiff in the lawsuit is a Lexington man who retired at 62 because of health issues. He can’t work a full-time job and is afraid of losing his coverage that pays for treatment for diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis.
“The change will harm Kentuckians across the state – housekeepers and custodians, ministers and morticians, car repairmen, students, and musicians—who need a range or health services, including check-ups, diabetes treatment, mental health services, blood pressure monitoring and treatment and vision and dental care,” the lawsuit said.
“The purpose of Medicaid is to provide medical insurance to people who cannot afford it, not to create barriers to coverage,” Anne Marie Regan, senior attorney for the Kentucky Equal Justice Center said. “Demonstration waivers are supposed to make access to healthcare easier. This approval does the opposite. It is not only in violation of Medicaid law but is immoral.”
According to progressive advocacy groups, the new plan will result in many people in Kentucky losing health coverage. State officials expect the Medicaid enrollment to drop by approximately 95,000 in the next five years because some won’t follow the new requirements while others will get jobs that provide health benefits.
Jane Perkins, a legal director of the National Health Law Program, said the lawsuit demands for the federal court to step in and prevent the Trump administration from rewriting the Medicaid Act and depriving Kentuckians of needed health care.