UPDATE: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments Friday in the case described below. Here is a roundup of news coverage:
This Friday, Oct. 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear oral arguments in a consolidated case challenging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) approval to implement a Medicaid work and community engagement requirement (WCER) in Arkansas and Kentucky. Waiver approval was vacated by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and remanded to HHS for further review in March 2019.
The groups challenging the WCER are expected to argue that the HHS secretary’s actions violate the Administrative Procedure Act, ignore the statutory purpose of Medicaid, and fail to address the impact of the WCER on coverage.
HHS will urge the three-judge panel to reverse the district court decision, arguing that the WCER promotes beneficiary health and wellness and that the district court misinterpreted the Medicaid statute. A reversal of the district court’s decision could mean that Arkansas can restore the WCER for enrollees to maintain coverage.
Arkansas was the only state to have implemented a WCER for Medicaid expansion populations. More than 18,000 enrollees lost coverage due to failure to comply with the WCER in 2018, although all had the opportunity to re-enroll at the beginning of 2019.