Government Moves to Cancel Oral Arguments and Remand to HHS in Medicaid Work Requirement Case

In a pair of Supreme Court cases concerning “time-limited experiments to test variations from the statutory requirements for States’ Medicaid plans,” the government moved Monday to vacate lower court decisions and remand the matter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). At issue in the case are “demonstration projects” carried out in Arkansas and New Hampshire that would condition continuing Medicaid coverage on recipients working a certain number of hours.

The suits were originally brought by Medicaid beneficiaries in those two states. According to the government’s motion, the Courts of Appeal found that the statute “did not authorize the Secretary to approve the demonstration project testing the work-related requirements” in opinions issued a year ago. The Supreme Court granted certiorari and opening briefs were filed on January 19, the final full day of the Trump Administration.

The motion explained that on February 14, the Biden Administration HHS sent letters to Arkansas, New Hampshire, and other states with approved demonstration projects implementing work requirements for Medicaid. The letters, according to the motion, said the agency “has begun a process of determining whether to withdraw approval of those requirements.” The letters added that the agency has “‘preliminarily determined'” that continuing the programs would “not promote the objectives of the Medicaid program.”

The Acting Solicitor General described this as an “intervening development,” arguing that the cases “no longer present a suitable context for the Court to address the question presented concerning the scope of the Secretary’s authority to approve the Arkansas and New Hampshire demonstration projects.”

The motion indicated that New Hampshire has no position on the matter, but that Arkansas opposes the federal government’s motion and intends to reply. The private respondents in the case are represented by Jenner & Block.