Kentucky federal judge throws out Bevin’s Medicaid suit

A federal judge in Kentucky dismissed Monday a lawsuit that amounted to a counterclaim by Gov. Matt Bevin against 16 Kentucky Medicaid beneficiaries, who have sued a federal agency in Washington, D.C., for its approval of Bevin’s plan to change Medicaid in the state.

District Judge Greg Van Tatenhove noted that Bevin chose to participate as a defendant in the District of Columbia case, in which a judge set aside the Department of Health and Human Services‘ approval of the plan, saying HHS had not adequately considered a key estimate by the state: that its Medicaid rolls would have 95,000 fewer people with the plan in five years than without it, in large measure because of noncompliance with its requirements for work, reporting and so on. HHS is re-reviewing the plan and recently sought public comment on it.

Bevin failed to show what injury Van Tatenhove was supposed to redress for him, the judge wrote: “Not all disputes are capable of federal judicial review. Federal courts are limited in their jurisdiction, and they can only hear cases where the plaintiff can establish jurisdiction. Here, the Commonwealth failed to do so.”

Bevin’s suit created “the possibility of two different outcomes before two different judges,” notes John Cheves of the Lexington Herald-Leader. “The Washington judge is a Democratic appointee; the Frankfort judge is a Republican appointee.”

Bevin spokeswoman Elizabeth Kuhn “released a statement suggesting that he does not plan to appeal,” James Romoser of Inside Health Policy reports. Kuhn said, “The complaint was dismissed on procedural grounds and did not address the substance of the case. This case was originally filed because we believe that Kentuckians deserve to have the 1115 waiver considered in Kentucky by a Kentucky judge. In the meantime, the 1115 case before a Washington, D.C. judge was expedited, and [Kentucky’s health agency] is working with CMS to be responsive to that ruling. We respect today’s decision by the court and will continue to pursue the case in Washington, D.C.”

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