The Trump administration has approved Kentucky's new Medicaid rules that will require recipients ages 19 - 64 to engage in 80 hours a month of community activities like working a job, volunteering, or schooling, in order to retain their Medicaid benefits.

This is the second time the state has received approval for this proposal. A federal judge initially shot it down in June. If all goes to plan, Kentucky will begin implementing the new rules on April 1st.

Arkansas, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Indiana have also received approval for similar plans. On June 1st, Arkansas became the only state to implement their 80 hours a month requirement. Since then, Arkansasstate officials have reported that 12,277 people have lost their Medicaid coverage because they could not comply with the new rules. Indiana and New Hampshire are slated to being rolling out their new Medicaid rules in the beginning of next year.

Medical ethicist Art Caplan called the idea of Medicaid work requirements “cruel” on Boston Public Radio Monday, and believes there are no clear benefits to these new rules. “It’s not really something that I think is going to instill good habits or get people off Medicaid,” Caplan said.

Caplan pointed out that many of the people on Medicaid in Kentucky may not be physically able to fulfill the 80 hour requirement.
“Remember, the overwhelming majority of people on Medicaid in Kentucky, and every state, are disabled or children or single head of household females, so getting them out 80 hours per month to do anything is very difficult, unless we are going to re-institute child labor,” he said.

“You have a population that basically is highly needy or is trying to take care of a bunch of kids and that’s where the problem is,” Caplan continued.