(sigh) SCOTUS agrees to hear Medicaid work requirement case

I suppose this was inevitable, but it's grating nonetheless, and especially so given that we're in the middle of a pandemic which has caused tens of millions of Americans to lose their jobs:

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to consider a Trump administration plan to let states impose work requirements on some who receive health-care benefits under the Medicaid program for the poor.

Arkansas and New Hampshire want to continue programs halted by lower courts, and more than a dozen other states say they want to impose similar requirements.

But despite the Supreme Court’s willingness to take up the issue, the incoming Biden administration might have other ideas, and opponents called on it to reverse endorsement of the work requirements.

A unanimous and ideologically diverse panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in February that President Trump’s health officials had been “arbitrary and capricious” in allowing Arkansas to launch a Medicaid program called “Arkansas Works” two years ago.

The good news here is that, as noted, the various Medicaid work requirement programs are done via the blessing of the HHS Dept., so even if the Supreme Court were to uphold them the incoming Biden Administration should be able to shut them down anyway...but that's not as easy as it sounds once the waivers have been approved by a previous administration. It could take months or potentially up to a year to go through all the logistical and legal paperwork required to reverse them, and the Biden team is gonna have a hundred other major fires to put out at the same time, so this is still A Bad Thing®.

Just to underscore how absurd the idea of requiring poor people to work in order to receive healthcare intended specifically for people who can't afford healthcare, the timing of the most recent judicial ruling (on March 4th, 2020...literally a week before the feces hit the air conditioner re. the COVID-19 pandemic) on Medicaid work requirements couldn't have been more fortuitous:

With work requirements suspended in Michigan and pretty much everywhere else, (Utah excepted), attention will turn to the Supreme Court. The federal government will likely ask for it to review the D.C. Circuit's decision invalidating work requirements. But that'll take time.

Between now and the moment that the Supreme Court might hear the case, we've got an election. If Trump wins, and if the Supreme Court blesses work requirements, we'll see them imposed in at least 20 states.

If Biden or Sanders wins, the waivers will be revoked and the case will be moot. So get out there and vote, people. Insurance coverage for hundreds of thousands of people through Medicaid hangs in the balance. /fin

--Nicholas Bagley