Supreme Court to hear appeal to reinstall New Hampshire, Arkansas work requirement program

Supreme Court
The Supreme Court decided to take up an appeal from Arkansas, New Hampshire and the Trump administration to reinstall the state's Medicaid work requirements program. (Getty/BrianPIrwin)

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to take up an appeal from Arkansas, New Hampshire and the Trump administration to reverse a lower court’s ruling to strike down both states' Medicaid work requirements program.

A decision, expected next June, could have major ramifications for other work requirement programs that have been tied up in court.

Arkansas and New Hampshire are two of four states whose work requirement program was set aside by a court ruling. The other states are Kentucky and Michigan. Kentucky later pulled the program in 2019 after a Democrat became governor.

Arkansas was the only state to install the program in 2018, but it led to 18,000 people losing coverage in part due to confusion from the eligibility rules, according to an estimate from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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The program was struck down by a federal judge who believed that work requirements did not meet the objectives of the Medicaid program to expand insurance coverage to lower-income individuals. The judge believed the program could risk coverage for some individuals, and the state failed to take that into account.

Arkansas and the Trump administration appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, but a three-judge panel upheld the earlier ruling in February.

The same judge that ruled on Arkansas and Kentucky's programs, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, also ruled against New Hampshire's program in July 2019 for similar reasons.

The Supreme Court has not scheduled oral arguments for the case, but a decision would likely be at the end of the court’s latest term in June 2021.

By that time, President-elect Joe Biden will have assumed the presidency. Biden could likely quickly pull the pending waivers from seven states that have yet to be approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, but experts say it could take a little while to pull the waivers already approved.