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February 14, 2020

NPAF Applauds Court Decision Striking Down Medicaid Work Requirements

A federal appeals court unanimously upheld a lower court’s ruling striking down work requirements for Medicaid recipients in Arkansas, finding that the rules were “arbitrary and capricious.” A statement by the National Patient Advocate Foundation in support of the ruling is below.


“We do not believe there is ever a fair way to administer work requirements for the Medicaid program. While the stated goal of such requirements may be to increase financial independence for enrollees, we find that in practice the only result will be crudely cutting people off from the care they need, either because they do not work the required hours or because they could not fill out the required paperwork.


At the Patient Advocate Foundation, case managers experience the way increased paperwork and other bureaucratic red tape cuts off access to care for eligible enrollees. People who need to comply with new requirements may not be able to fill out the new paperwork and file it appropriately, even if they fulfill all the required work hours. Others who qualify for exemptions may not be able to get the required physician testimony, medical records and other necessary documents.


The work requirements themselves ignore the reality of employment opportunities for many people enrolled in the Medicaid program. Most participants already work. For these Americans, their jobs may offer only unreliable hours, or their employers may not offer health coverage. Unfortunately, work requirements can not create new or better jobs where there are none available.


The purpose of the Medicaid program is and should always be to get patients the health care they need.  People looking for an economic boost need look no further than the employment gains and financial stability that reliable health coverage provides.


Ultimately, we agree with the finding of the federal appeals court, which is that work requirements function in direct opposition to the primary goal of Medicaid. We urge state governments to continue administering their Medicaid programs as an unlimited benefit to all those who qualify without imposing bureaucratic restrictions.”