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Florida House Debates Medicaid Work Requirements While Federal Court Strikes Them Down

Under legislation moving through the Florida House of Representatives (House Bill 955), low-income Floridians who rely on Medicaid may have to meet new work requirements to keep their health care coverage.

Medicaid recipients would have to prove to the state that they are working, actively seeking work or enrolled in a job-training program or are unable to work. It wouldn't apply to people with disabilities, the elderly and children, groups that make up the majority of Florida's Medicaid enrollment.

Arkansas’ Nightmare

Similar requirements have been approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) over the last two years – causing tens of thousands to be kicked off of Medicaid. In Arkansas, more than 18,000 enrollees have lost Medicaid coverage since last summer. Online reporting requirements, limited internet access, and a confusing website contributed to thousands of adults failing to report their work status for three consecutive months, leading to disenrollment.

Federal Judge Rules Against ‘Arbitrary’ Work Requirements

However, earlier this week, Judge James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia ruled that the Arkansas and Kentucky Medicaid work requirements are unlawful. The ruling is best summarized by the Georgetown Center for Children and Families:

“Under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), federal agencies may not take actions that are ‘arbitrary or capricious.’ If they do, federal courts are instructed to hold the action unlawful and set it aside. [The judge] found that the approval of (Arkansas Works), and the re-approval of (Kentucky HEALTH), was in each case arbitrary and capricious, and he vacated and remanded both demonstrations back to the Secretary. In addition, any states considering going down this path are likely to face litigation on the same grounds, in the same court, with the same judge.”

Florida Moves Forward Anyway?

For work requirements to become law in Florida, HB 955, filed by Rep. Daniel Perez (R-Miami), would also require approval from the federal government. It is now clear that if passed, it would likely be challenged in court. Still, the House bill has already passed two committee votes showing that lawmakers were willing to ignore the human and financial costs of implementing these requirements.

The Florida Senate, though considering other proposals like limiting retroactive eligibility, have not taken up the issue of work requirements during the 2019 legislative session.

Standing Up for Medicaid

Currently, over 4 million Floridians are enrolled in Medicaid. 61% of Florida's adult Medicaid enrollees are working, while a significant portion of the remaining 39% are individuals with disabilities, caretakers, and students.

It’s more important than ever for state lawmakers to understand the value of Medicaid and how hard enrollees are already working. Share your story with us and help us tell lawmakers what life is really like for hardworking Floridians!

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