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The federal government has decided to appeal a judge’s decision to strike down Kentucky’s plan to overhaul its Medicaid program by adding work requirements and other rules for receiving benefits.

The defendants, who include U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, filed a notice Wednesday, saying that they’re appealing last month’s ruling by Judge James Boasberg to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Boasberg issued an opinion March 27, saying that the Trump administration’s approval of Kentucky’s Section 1115 waiver, also known as Kentucky HEALTH, was arbitrary and capricious.

The decision — which was the second time Boasberg had rejected the Kentucky HEALTH plan — was the result of a lawsuit by more than a dozen Kentucky Medicaid recipients, challenging the proposal, which would have required certain “able-bodied” adults to complete and report 80 hours a month of work or other “community engagement,” such as volunteering or job training.

Court records indicate that the federal government also is appealing a decision that Boasberg made on the same day rejecting a similar plan in Arkansas that has resulted in thousands of people losing their Medicaid coverage.

Sam Brooke, deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the groups involved in the legal battle, issued a statement regarding both cases, saying: “The Trump Administration is wrong on the law. And we are confident that the judge’s well-reasoned opinion is this case will stand.”

This story may be updated.

 

Darla Carter

Darla Carter

Darla Carter is a hometown girl who recently joined the staff of Insider Louisville to mostly cover health. She previously served as a longtime health and fitness writer for The Courier-Journal, where she also worked for the Metro, Neighborhoods and Features departments. Prior to that, the award-winning journalist wrote for newspapers elsewhere in Kentucky and Tennessee, covering a range of topics, from education to courts. She's a graduate of Western Kentucky University, where she studied journalism and philosophy, and is the proud mom of two young children.