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Ensuring equal justice for all Kentuckians

Kentucky Equal Justice Center is a non-profit poverty law advocacy center

The mission of Kentucky Equal Justice Center is to promote equal justice for all residents of the
Commonwealth by serving as an advocate for low income and other vulnerable members of society.

January 24, 2018

Kentuckians Sue Trump

The National Health Law Program today issued this press release. Kentucky Equal Justice Center and Southern Poverty Law Center are co-counsel in the lawsuit.

KY sues Trump.pngWashington - Fifteen Kentuckians enrolled in Medicaid today filed a class action lawsuit against the Trump administration challenging its approval of sweeping changes to Medicaid law that will endanger the health care of tens of thousands of low-income individuals and families in the state. The plaintiffs are represented by the National Health Law Program (NHeLP), Kentucky Equal Justice Center (KEJC), and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Jenner & Block is counsel to NHeLP in this case.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the lawsuit charges that Kentucky's recently approved Medicaid waivers violate the Secretary of HHS's authority under the Social Security Act, because they are not an experimental project that is consistent with the objectives of the Medicaid Act. It is the first lawsuit brought to challenge a Trump administration Medicaid waiver approval.

"Through imposition of premiums and cost sharing, 'lockouts,' benefits cuts, and a work requirement, the waiver will radically reshape Medicaid in a manner that, by the State's own admission, will result in substantial reductions in coverage," the lawsuit states.

NHeLP Legal Director Jane Perkins said the Secretary far exceeded his authority in granting Kentucky's waiver.

"These waiver approvals raise a host of legal issues -- not just the work requirements and premiums but eliminating health care services, such as transportation to health care facilities or providers. This amounts to a project demonstrating how to destroy a strong health care program," Perkins said. "Allowing the State to ignore fundamental Medicaid protections will result in large numbers of low-income individuals and families losing health care coverage. We are calling on the federal court to step in and stop the Trump administration from re-writing the Medicaid Act and stripping Kentuckians of vital health care."

KEJC Senior Attorney Anne Marie Regan said, "The Cabinet's own estimate is that around 95,000 Kentuckians will lose Medicaid coverage. The purpose of Medicaid is to provide medical insurance to people who cannot afford it, not to create barriers to coverage. Demonstration waivers are supposed to make access to health care easier. This approval does the opposite. It is not only in violation of Medicaid law but is immoral."

After HHS announced approval of Kentucky's waiver, the state's Republican Governor Matt Bevin promptly signed an executive order in an attempt to intimidate those at risk from seeking relief in the courts. Bevin's executive order calls for the end of the state's Medicaid expansion if his approved waiver is found to be illegal.

SPLC Deputy Legal Director Samuel Brooke said, "The governor's threat - to punish the 400,000 residents who have received Medicaid under the expansion if a court rules against the Kentucky HEALTH project - is shameless. We will not be intimidated. We will defend the rights of individuals to enroll in Kentucky's Medicaid program."

The lawsuit's plaintiffs represent Kentuckians from all walks of life who rely on Medicaid for their health care. They reside in all parts of the state and are active in various ways in their communities. They include a minister, who is also a mortician, a mechanic, a musician, a retired health care worker, a church administrator, a bank teller, students, caregivers, house cleaners, and housekeepers for a health care center and a university. The plaintiffs have a variety of health care concerns, from high blood pressure, diabetes, and mental health problems to poor vision and dental problems.
Under the approved waiver, they are all in danger of losing Medicaid coverage.

For all of the plaintiffs' stories, see the complaint here. A summary of the lawsuit can be found here.

Please contact the NHeLP Communications Department at or 301-233-0867 to speak with with Perkins, Regan, or Brooke.

January 11, 2017

Kentuckians do not support proposed changes to Medicaid

Two out of three registered voters in Kentucky say Medicaid should be left as is instead of scaled back to cover fewer people. A similar number oppose six-month lockout periods for Medicaid participants who fail to report income changes within ten days.

In 2016, the Bevin administration filed an 1115 Medicaid waiver proposal that would reduce the number of people enrolled and introduce lockout penalties. A new Mason-Dixon poll shows that both components are unpopular across party lines, gender, age groups and region. Opposition is strongest in Eastern Kentucky and among voters under 35. Read the full report here.

KEJC director Rich Seckel says, “People understand the difference between bureaucracy and opportunity. The results suggest people saw the plan as creating barriers to health care.”

This poll isn’t the first sign the proposed changes to Medicaid are unpopular. Over 1,800 commenters weighed in on the plan in 2016 and almost 1,200 on proposed changes in 2017. The vast majority of them expressed concern over the impact on access to health care for low-income Kentuckians. The new poll shows that the concerns expressed in those comments are shared widely across the state.

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KEJC Workers' Rights Task Force Meeting, May 16, 2017

Kentucky Equal Justice Center
201 West Short Street, Suite 310
Lexington, KY 40507