News & Perspectives

Federal lawsuit filed challenging Kentucky’s Medicaid work requirement

1. February 2018 Sam Fish Health

On Wednesday, January 24th, a lawsuit was filed in the Federal District Court, District of Columbia, challenging the implementation by Kentucky of the nation’s first work requirement in a Medicaid program. The suit was filed by three organizations on behalf of 15 Kentucky citizens claiming to be at risk of losing their Medicaid coverage. They also requested to certify the suit as a class action.

Kentucky was granted a waiver under section 1115 of the Social Security Act to impose the work requirement after a Letter to State Medicaid Directors, SMD 18-002, was issued by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on January 11th.

The lawsuit lists as defendants the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), CMS, and top officials of both entities. The essence of the complaint is that the federal officials who approved Kentucky’s plan acted illegally and beyond their authority to impose a requirement that could be created only by an act of Congress.

Media coverage of the lawsuit indicates that 10 other states have filed similar waivers and others are considering doing so.