Advocates filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration on Tuesday in an attempt to block a new rule in Arkansas that would require Medicaid recipients to work 80 hours a month.
The lawsuit claims that the Trump administration doesn’t have the authority to implement these new rules without approval from Congress and that the requirements are “threatening irreparable harm to the health and welfare of the poorest and most vulnerable in our country.”
Trump officials said that they implemented these new requirements because able-bodied individuals in the program should be able to get out of poverty.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has supported the requirement because she believes it will move more people onto the workforce and get them off government-funded coverage. She added that the state is currently providing substantial assistance to Medicaid recipients who have difficulty reporting because of limited access to the Internet.
Democrats, however, argued that the new rules will cause thousands of people to lose their health coverage because they can’t meet the bureaucratic hurdles to prove they are working.
The state of Arkansas said on Tuesday that over 5,400 people didn’t meet the requirements in June and July and will have to meet the requirements this month to keep their coverage.
“This lawsuit has one goal, which is to undermine our efforts to bring Arkansans back into the workforce, increase worker training, and to offer improved economic prospects for those who desire to be less dependent on the government,” said Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R). He added that the state is providing “substantial assistance” to help people meet the reporting requirements.
Charles Gresham, a plaintiff in the suit, has been on the expanded Medicaid program for three years, but hasn’t been able to find work because of a seizure disorder.
“Arkansas Works gives a person in my situation the ability to continue with my care to resolve whatever health issues I have. Without the program, my health can only get worse,” he said.
When the work requirements in Arkansas are fully implemented, it will be forced on able-bodied participants who are aged 19 to 49 and have no children.