June 29 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Friday struck down Kentucky's effort to require some people to work and pay monthly premiums in order to receive Medicaid.
U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg said the Trump administration failed to consider whether the changes in Kentucky's laws would help the state furnish assistance to citizens. The judge said the administration's decision to allow Kentucky to institute the requirements was "arbitrary and capricious."
In January, the state became the first to force Medicaid recipients to hold jobs or other employment activities for 80 hours each month after the Trump administration began allowing the requirements.
"It will be a model for the nation," Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said at the time,
The work requirement applied to working-age adults who are able-bodied, and not pregnant, medically frail, full-time students or primary caregivers.
Three public-interest legal organizations sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of 15 Kentucky residents who were Medicaid beneficiaries. The lawsuit accused the HHS of violating the purpose of the federal program. It also charged that federal and state officials deliberately took actions to reduce access to the federal health plan for the poor.
Boasberg's ruling halted the new Kentucky work requirement from taking effect Sunday. He sent Bevin's plan back to the federal government for further review.
Bevin's administration said it planned to work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on the plan.
"While we disagree with the Court's ruling ... we look forward to working with CMS to quickly resolve the single issue raised by the court so that we can move forward with Kentucky HEALTH," Adam Meier, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said in a statement.
The ruling could influence other states with federal approval to require low-income residents to work or volunteer to receive Medicaid, including Arkansas and Indiana.