Health Care

Indiana Suspends Medicaid Work Requirements amid Lawsuit

The State Capitol in Indianapolis, Indiana, February 1, 2012 (Jeff Haynes/Reuters)

Indiana announced Thursday that it will suspend work requirements for Medicaid eligibility as a federal lawsuit challenging the requirements unfolds, marking a setback for the Trump administration.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration said it will “temporarily suspend the reporting requirements of the Gateway to Work program” due to the legal challenge. The rules would have required beneficiaries to log 20 hours a month of work or work-related activity to avoid losing coverage after December 31.

The work requirements have already been struck down by federal judges in New Hampshire, Arkansas and Kentucky. In Arkansas, the requirements briefly went into effect before a judge could block them, causing a coverage gap for more than 18,000 people.

In Kentucky, the judge ruled that the Department of Health and Human Services’ approval of work requirements “is arbitrary and capricious because it did not address … how the project would implicate the ‘core’ objective of Medicaid: the provision of medical coverage to the needy.”

The Trump administration has for the first time approved work mandates for Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income Americans, in states that have applied for them.

Critics have argued with the administration about the merits of the requirements, saying they cause a loss of coverage for those who do not realize they must prove to the state that they are indeed working. The administration, on the other hand, has argued that the requirements help lift Medicaid beneficiaries out of poverty by encouraging them to work.

Democrats who oppose the work mandates have also slammed the administrative taxpayer costs of the implementation of the new rules, saying the cost flouts federal spending controls.

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