Trump Administration Again Approves Legally Suspect Kentucky Medicaid Waiver

Trump Administration Again Approves Legally Suspect Kentucky Medicaid Waiver

Ignoring Voluminous Comments Detailing a Fatally Flawed Approach to Medicaid in the Bluegrass State

Washington – The Trump administration’s U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has again approved the Kentucky HEALTH waiver project despite evidence that it will lead to hundreds of thousands of hard-working Kentuckians losing access to vital health care coverage. The Nov. 20 re-approval comes after a U.S. District Court vacated HHS’s initial approval of the project in June, finding the agency failed to adequately consider whether it would help Kentucky provide Medicaid coverage to its low-income residents. The National Health Law Program, Kentucky Equal Justice Center, and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed the class action lawsuit, Stewart v. Azar. The law firm Jenner & Block is representing the National Health Law Program in Stewart.

National Health Law Program Legal Director Jane Perkins said, “After the court decision, more than 11,000 additional comments were filed with HHS, the vast majority of them revealing why the waiver project would reduce Medicaid coverage, restrict access to health care services, and harm the health of Kentuckians. Nevertheless, HHS has once again given Kentucky permission to impose a burdensome work requirement, premiums, and lockout penalties on Medicaid enrollees. Kentucky HEALTH runs directly counter to the purpose of the Medicaid Act, which is to furnish health care coverage to low-income individuals and families. Medicaid is a health care program, not a jobs-training program.”

KEJC Senior Litigation and Advocacy Counsel Ben Carter said, “We are disappointed that HHS is uninterested in facts and evidence developed in comments showing that a work requirement will result in individuals and families eligible for Medicaid losing that coverage, while increasing administrative costs of the program. As we have long-argued, Medicaid expansion in Kentucky is improving lives and health outcomes. The Bevin and Trump administrations are endangering that progress with repeated attempts to undo this work.”

Southern Poverty Law Center Deputy Legal Director Samuel Brooke said, “Same thing, different results: that’s what HHS hopes to achieve by reapproving Kentucky’s Medicaid waiver application without any meaningful changes. We intend to pursue the next court challenge as vigorously as we have before when we won. We have no reason to believe that the results will be any different this time.”

For more attorneys’ comment on the re-approval of the Kentucky Medicaid waiver, please contact: Jeremy Leaming, National Health Law Program, leaming@healthlaw.org, 301.233.0867; Ben Carter, KEJC, ben@kyequaljustice.org, 502.303.4062, amregan@kyequaljustice.org; or Ashley Levett, SPLC, 334.296.0084, ashley.levett@splcenter.org.

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