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US judge overturns approval of Kentucky Medicaid work provisions

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A U.S. federal judge on Friday vacated the federal government’s approval of new requirements by the state of Kentucky that people must work or get jobs training if they are to receive benefits from the Medicaid health insurance program.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C., ruled that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services never adequately considered whether the work requirements actually help the state furnish medical assistance to state residents.

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“At bottom, the record shows that 95,000 people would lose Medicaid coverage, and yet the (department) paid no attention to that deprivation,” Boasberg wrote.

The ruling deals a blow to the Trump administration effort to allow states to implement conservative changes to the 50-year-old Medicaid program, which provides health insurance to the poor and disabled.

The administration has approved waivers for Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana and New Hampshire to require many residents to engage in some combination of work, volunteer, job training or school opportunities for 80 hours a month or else lose their benefits. Another eight states await federal approval for similar rules.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin had threatened to scrap the entire Medicaid expansion under former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which extended insurance to about 400,000 state residents, if the work requirements were overturned. He earlier signed a self-executing executive order that overturns the expansion in the event that appeals are exhausted.

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Representatives for HHS and the U.S. Justice Department, which represented the federal government in the case, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The rules, which the state expected to begin implementing on July 1, cover people from 19 to 64 years old, exempting some groups including pregnant women, the medically frail and former foster care youth.

They were approved by Republican President Donald Trump’s administration through a process that allows states to receive waivers from federal Medicaid law to test new approaches to the 50-year-old program.

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A group of Kentucky residents sued in January, contending that, rather than testing a new approach, Kentucky had “effectively rewritten” the federal Medicaid law.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston and Yasmeen Abutaleb in Washington; Editing by Alistair Bell


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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‘How dare you?’ Greta Thunberg berates world leaders at UN

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A visibly angry Greta Thunberg berated world leaders as she addressed a UN climate summit on Monday, accusing them of betraying her generation by failing to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and asking "How dare you?"

The Swedish teen, who has become the global face of the growing youth movement against climate inaction, began by telling her audience: "My message is that we'll be watching you," eliciting laughter.

But it was soon clear that the tone of the message would be very serious.

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‘The transcript has to come out’: Fox News pundit unloads on Trump over his Ukraine scandal

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A Fox News pundit on Monday said the Trump administration had no choice but to release a transcript of a controversial call with Ukraine's president, in which Trump allegedly pressured the foreign country to investigate his potential Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Trump has insisted that the call with Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskiy was "largely congratulatory" and focused on corruption. But the Trump administration attempted to block a whistleblower complaint about the conversation.

"Look, the administration made a serious error in excessive secrecy. If it is what the president says it is, then the effort to conceal it makes it worse, right?" said Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt.

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Explosive report shows how foreign entities are bombarding US servicemembers with pro-Trump propaganda

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Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter played a critical role in helping Russia-affiliated trolls disseminate propaganda to divide and manipulate voters in the 2016 presidential election.

But it hasn't stopped. A new report from the Vietnam Veterans Association has uncovered an ongoing two-year effort by actors in several foreign countries, including Russia, to target U.S. veterans and servicemembers.

The report shows that "These foreign admins have created individual social-media accounts that purport to belong to American veterans working at reputable veterans organizations," and use the accounts both to "send friend requests to the relatively small community of veteran advocates and connect with its prominent members who work to shape federal policy" and "spread propaganda and false news, while shaping and moderating/censoring the conversations of the unsuspecting community of American veterans who follow or join these groups and pages."

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