Last week, 40 public health scholars, including Dr. Lynn R. Goldman, Michael and Lori Milken Dean of the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health (GW Milken Institute SPH) and five deans and associate deans at schools of public health, public policy and public administration, filed a public health “friend of the court” brief in support of three Medicaid beneficiaries in Arkansas.
The Medicaid enrollees filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the federal government’s approval of the Arkansas Medicaid work demonstration. The lawsuit (Gresham v. Azar) seeks to block the implementation of the Arkansas Medicaid work demonstration, arguing it is contrary to law and poses major health risks for the poorest and most vulnerable citizens.
“About 50,000 people in Arkansas are at risk of losing the protection of health insurance in the first year alone if the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is permitted to proceed with an experiment designed to limit thousands of eligible people’s access to insurance,” Dr. Goldman said.
In allowing the state to proceed with a demonstration designed to remove potentially tens of thousands of people from the Medicaid program under the guise of experimental research, the Trump Administration acted outside the scope of its legal authority under 1115 of the Social Security Act, according to the scholars. They go on to say that the administration permitted the Arkansas demonstration to launch without meeting the requirements of the experimental statute itself, including failure to put evidence-based, objective evaluation in place that could inform policymakers about the impact of the experiment on coverage, access to care or health. The amicus brief offers impact estimates for individuals losing coverage in the first year of the demonstration as well as the potential consequences arising from the impact of the experiment on health care systems anchoring the state’s poorest communities and the experiment’s broader economic impact.
Research estimates presented in the amicus brief for the first time show that by the end of the first full year of implementation, between 19 and 30 percent of the approximately 161,000 people subject to the state’s work requirements – between 30,700 and 48,300 – will lose coverage.