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Supreme Court Tosses Out Dispute Over Medicaid Work Requirements

April 18, 2022, 1:45 PM

The Supreme Court won’t be rescheduling arguments in the fight over work requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries that had been sitting in limbo at the court for over a year.

The justices on Monday agreed the cases disputing the Trump administration’s approval of work rules in Arkansas and New Hampshire are now moot, and sent them back to the trial court with instructions to wipe the decisions off the books and dismiss them.

Though the Biden administration is opposed to Medicaid work rules, the Justice Department took the unusual step of asking the justices to vacate lower court rulings that invalidated them. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the rules don’t achieve Medicaid’s primary objective, which is to provide low-income people access to medical care.

Some health law scholars say the appeals court rulings could have been used in the future to limit the authority the Health and Human Services secretary has to test new policies for the Medicaid program. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia also tossed out the prior approvals, but that court didn’t rule on the substance of whether work requirements are legal. It instead focused on whether the Trump administration had followed the right process in approving them.

The Supreme Court on March 11, 2021, canceled arguments that were originally scheduled to be heard in the case on March 29, 2021.

The HHS notified the states March 17, 2021 that the agency was withdrawing the Trump administration’s prior approvals of the rules that require Medicaid beneficiaries to work, go to school, or volunteer in their community to remain in the program. Michigan and Wisconsin’s were also withdrawn shortly thereafter. Arizona and Indiana were notified theirs were being withdrawn in letters sent June 24, 2021. Each state was given 30 days to file a written notice of appeal.

The HHS notified the high court in a letter June 11,2021 that New Hampshire failed to file its appeal in time, making the agency’s decision to withdraw the work rules final. Arkansas got its appeal in by the deadline, but the original program was only approved through Dec. 31, 2021. HHS did not extend the project and it expired.

The consolidated case is Becerra v. Gresham, U.S., No. 20-37.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lydia Wheeler in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at; Alexis Kramer at