18 states support Arkansas’ work requirement for Medicaid
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18 states support Arkansas’ work requirement for Medicaid

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas should be able to set work requirements for some of its Medicaid recipients, including the use of Medicaid dollars to buy private insurance for low-income people, 18 states told the U.S. Supreme Court this week.

Arkansas’ work requirement for its Medicaid expansion has previously been blocked as lawmakers debated the future of the expanded coverage program that has sharply divided Republicans during the past several years.

Earlier in December, the Supreme Court announced it would hear the appeals involving the Arkansas and New Hampshire work requirements — both of which had been struck down by lower courts.

Seventeen states have so far signed an amicus curiae, or friend of the court, brief arguing that the lower court’s ruling is “flatly inconsistent with historical and current practice, ” according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The 17 states, all of which have Republican attorneys general, include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

Nebraska, whose attorney general is Republican as well, filed a separate brief arguing that the lower court’s ruling were flawed.

Arkansas lawmakers will consider changing the state’s version of Medicaid expansion, with the state planning to seek a new waiver from the federal government for a program that provides health care coverage for about 300,000 low-income Arkansans. The current waiver expires at the end of this year.

With then-President Donald Trump in the White House, the U.S. Department of Justice defended the waivers. The department’s stance is now unclear since President Joe Biden took office.

In legal filings, Arkansas has argued that the Arkansas demonstration project’s aim was “to test the hypothesis that conditioning Medicaid expansion benefits on work, education, or volunteering would lead to healthier outcomes for its beneficiaries.”

At least 10 states have adopted Medicaid work requirements, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

A spokeswoman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Wednesday that the work on the appeal continues.

“The Attorney General’s office looks forward to defending Arkansas Works at the U.S. Supreme Court so Arkansas may enrich the lives of our fellow Arkansans through commonsense community-engagement requirements.”

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