Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin is countersuing a lawsuit challenging his authority to institute work requirements for the State’s Medicaid recipients.
The Trump administration announced earlier this year that it would allow states to require able-bodied Medicaid recipients to work, volunteer or enroll in classes or work training, for at least twenty hours a week in order to receive Medicaid benefits.
States would have to apply for a waiver before instituting any programs, and certain groups of recipients, including the elderly and the disabled, would be exempt from them. Ten states have applied for a waiver. Two of them have already been approved – Kentucky in January, followed by Indiana earlier this month.
Sixteen Kentucky residents filed a lawsuit against Gov. Bevin’s administration challenging the State’s authority to change Medicaid’s eligibility requirements. Medicaid is a federal program so only Congress can change the eligibility requirements, they assert, making Kentucky’s efforts to do so unconstitutional.
Bevin has countersued, claiming the lawsuit needs to be heard in a Kentucky federal court, not in a Washington D.C., court where the lawsuit was originally filed. “The Commonwealth’s voice obviously must be heard on this issue,” the lawsuit said.
Bevin has previously threatened to terminate Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion if a court rules against the work requirements. Medicaid was expanded in Kentucky under Obamacare by Bevin’s predecessor Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. There are currently 1.2 million Medicaid beneficiaries in Kentucky, half of which received benefits under the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.
The case promises to have national implications has at least eight other states are waiting to have their Medicaid work requirements approved, and ultimately implemented.