June 29, 2018
Jenner & Block won a significant victory today when a federal judge blocked a plan requiring Medicaid recipients in Kentucky to work or otherwise lose their benefits.  The firm represented National Health Law Program (NHeLP), an organization that protects and advances the health rights of low-income and underserved individuals and families.  NHeLP, along with Kentucky Equal Justice Center and Southern Poverty Law Center, represented 16 Kentuckians in the class action lawsuit, Stewart v. Azar.  At issue was the current administration’s approval of Kentucky’s Medicaid waiver plan, called Kentucky HEALTH.  The plan was set to go into effect on July 1; the ruling vacates the approval and remands the case back to the US Department of Health and Human Services. 
“The Secretary never adequately considered whether Kentucky HEALTH would in fact help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid,” Judge James Boasberg said in his opinion.  “This signal omission renders his determination arbitrary and capricious.” 
The judge also commented that the Secretary failed to consider the 95,000 people who would lose coverage under the plan.  He goes on to say that the Secretary did not request “additional information related to the project’s impact on recipients or offer any information refuting plaintiffs’ substantial documentary evidence that the action would reduce healthcare coverage.”
Partner Ian Heath Gershengorn, chair of the Appellate and Supreme Court Practice, argued on behalf of NHeLP.  Other team members included Partners Thomas J. Perrelli and Devi M. Rao and Associates Lauren J. Hartz, Samuel F. Jacobson and Natacha Y. Lam.
To read NHeLP’s press release about the victory, please click here.