The Trump administration will not back down from forcing the working poor to jump through humiliating hoops and face sometimes insurmountable barriers in order to have health care. A federal court blocked the work requirements the administration approved for Kentucky, but that’s not getting in the way, says Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
“We suffered one blow in district court in litigation,” he told a friendly audience at The Heritage Foundation, “but we are undeterred. We’re proceeding forward. … We’re fully committed to work requirements and community participation in the Medicaid program … we will continue to litigate, we will continue to approve plans, we will continue to work with states. We are moving forward.”
That’s despite the fact that the very large majority of “able-bodied” and working-age people on Medicaid are already working. Or that most people on Medicaid—80 percent—are in a household where someone is working. Or that it is proving to be cripplingly expensive for states to start up and continue these systems for monitoring Medicaid enrollees every month.
None of that is acknowledged by the Trump administration. Azar insists on calling Medicaid expansion to the working poor “perverse incentives” for poor people to be lazy slackers and insists that they will still try to repeal the law: “Supporting legislation to undo those perverse incentives,” he said, “is a priority for this administration.”
The pressing takeaway from this is this bit: “we will continue to litigate.” They will continue to push this in the courts because they are convinced that very soon they’re going to have a Supreme Court that will give Trump free rein to gut the Affordable Care Act, whether that’s ending protections for people with pre-existing conditions or destroying Medicaid.