Trump administration appeals on Medicaid work requirements

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Wednesday appealed recent rulings in a closely watched case involving health care for the poor, after a federal judge blocked work requirements for some low-income people on Medicaid.

The rulings last month by Judge James Boasberg in Washington D.C. blocked requirements for “able bodied” adults in Arkansas and Kentucky under which Medicaid recipients either had to work, study, volunteer or perform other “community engagement” activities.

The Justice Department filed notice appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Arkansas also appealed.

The Arkansas requirements were already in effect, while in Kentucky they’re a top priority for Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. The work requirements apply to hundreds of thousands of low-income people in both states who gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.

Boasberg had ruled that the Trump administration’s approval of work requirements created numerous obstacles for poor people trying to get health care, which federal and state officials failed to evaluate or resolve adequately. He questioned whether the state programs were fulfilling Medicaid’s core mission of providing medical assistance.

The administration argues that work promotes health, and officials have said they’ll keep approving such requests from states.

President Donald Trump supports work requirements for public programs across the government. Last year, he signed an executive order directing Cabinet agencies to add or strengthen work requirements for programs including subsidized housing, food stamps and cash welfare.

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