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Despite a judge’s disapproval, Trump administration is doubling down on Medicaid restrictions

  August 20, 2018 | By Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

In the real world, it has become clear that placing restrictions such as work and reporting requirements on Medicaid is disastrous.

They’re legally dubious, for one thing — as a federal judge stated in late June when he tossed out work requirements imposed in Kentucky.

More important, they lead to needy beneficiaries being thrown off the program and locked out of healthcare for lengthy periods, often because of confused regulations and the natural uncertainties of life in a low-income environment. The best evidence for that comes from Arkansas, where thousands of residents may lose their eligibility for Medicaid for no good reason — and may not even know they’ve been barred until they go to a doctor and get turned away.

In the Trump world, however, this is all to the good. “We are fully committed to work requirements and community participation requirements in the Medicaid program,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told an audience at the right-wing Heritage Foundation in July, a few weeks after the Kentucky ruling. He said his agency would keep encouraging states to devise new restrictions. “We will continue to approve plans, we are continuing to work with states and we’ll drive forward.”

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