Federal Judge Dismisses Another Medicaid Work Requirement Case

Federal Judge Dismisses Another Medicaid Work Requirement Case

Washington, DC – On April 15, a federal judge formally dismissed the case Young v Becerra. In the case, four low-income Michiganders challenged the Healthy Michigan Plan, which conditioned Medicaid eligibility on work requirements and other restrictive conditions, including premium payments for very low-income people. The work requirement provision, approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2019 under the Trump administration as a section 1115 waiver, would have pushed up to 160,000 people off Medicaid if implemented. The federal court vacated the work requirements in a summary judgment order on March 4, 2020, and on December 31, 2023, the State allowed the section 1115 project to expire.

The Plaintiffs were represented by the Michigan Center for Civil Justice, the Michigan Poverty Law Program, and the National Health Law Program, which, together with other state partners, has successfully blocked similar work requirements in other states, including Kentucky, Arkansas, and New Hampshire.

Kelly Bidelman, Executive Director of the Michigan Center for Civil Justice, and Lisa Ruby, Public Benefits attorney at the Michigan Poverty Law Program, noted, “We are particularly grateful that the State is no longer pursuing work requirements as an eligibility requirement for Medicaid coverage. The policy itself never made sense. Individuals need health insurance to fight and avoid illness, making it more likely they can participate in the workforce. In addition, the vast majority of low-income adults who qualify for Medicaid coverage in Michigan are already working, going to school, or providing care for an incapacitated person.”

“Over the past six years, courts have consistently found that tying Medicaid coverage to work requirements is illegal and contrary to the purpose of the Medicaid program, which is to provide access to health care coverage for low-income people and individuals with disabilities,” said Jane Perkins, Litigation Director at NHeLP. “These rulings, along with the overwhelming evidence that work requirements are unnecessary and unfair, will hopefully dissuade policymakers from endorsing these sorts of policies in the future.”

The Michigan Center for Civil Justice is a Health Law Partnership with the National Health Law Program. NHeLP and our partners create and execute litigation strategies to address existing and emerging obstacles to health care access. We also work with partners to build and strengthen their capacity to engage in new and innovative advocacy projects. Learn more about these partnerships at healthlaw.org/health-law-partnerships.

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