Nearly 100,000 people in Kentucky could lose their health care, thanks to the Trump administration.
Donald Trump may have failed to repeal Obamacare, but his administration is doing the next best thing: encouraging states to kick as many poor people off their Medicaid coverage as possible.
His Medicaid administrator, Seema Verma, released new guidelines allowing states to force Medicaid recipients to work or perform community service to keep their coverage. Kentucky is the first state to have such a system approved, and several other states have plans in the works.
Now, 15 residents of Kentucky are suing the administration in federal court to stop the plan that could lead to nearly 100,000 people losing their health care.
The plaintiffs, who range in age from 20 to 62, argue that federal Medicaid requirements can only be changed in ways that increase coverage, not reduce it, and that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services imposed the new guidelines without sufficient public comment or transparency required by law.
The Trump administrations proposal is based on dangerous myths and stereotypes about the poor. Studies show 60 percent of Medicaid recipients already work, and 79 percent live in households where someone is working. Among those who do not, most are caregivers, disabled, in school, or actively looking for work but cannot find it.
Despite this, Verma seems to believe taking away peoples access to health care will magically give them a job. She has bizarrely claimed it is soft bigotry to assume poor people are jobless for reasons other than laziness.
Supposedly, the new guidelines exempt people who are disabled or in school. But in practice, work requirements tend to kick off even people who are working, because of the difficulty of the paperwork and bureaucracy to prove eligibility. Kentuckys own estimates show 100,000 people could lose coverage in that state alone.
Kentucky used to be a huge success story for health care, with a successful insurance exchange and Medicaid expansion under Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. His Republican successor, Matt Bevin, shut down the exchange and is now determined to roll back Medicaid, claiming with absolutely no basis that Medicaid does not work because disease still exists. He has even threatened to cancel Medicaid expansion entirely, ending coverage for 500,000 people, if courts strike down his work requirement system.
Trump and GOP governors cannot be allowed to contort Medicaid from a system that protects public health into a system that humiliates the poor. The American people are standing up and fighting back.