Kentucky officials had meanwhile made the case that labor requirements could save money for the state and thus make its expansion of Medicaid "financially viable." Gov. Matt Bevin, a republican whose democratic predecessor extended the program, has warned repeatedly that he will end the expansion for economic reasons if the rules of employment do not survive in court.
But Judge Boasberg rejected the economic argument. Federal officials said he had not found that the waiver would save money or make the program more sustainable.
In seeking a federal permit to impose labor requirements, Kentucky had estimated that 95,000 fewer residents would have been enrolled in Medicaid within five years, although its lawyers said many would have found jobs offering insurance. Lawyers for the applicants predicted that the number would be much larger and the early results in Arkansas ̵
He added: "The judge illegally concluded that Medicaid is about paying for health care for as many people as possible without regard to whether this coverage actually makes people healthier. We disagree with disagreement because a healthcare program like Medicaid of its nature must take into account whether it improves people's health. "
Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a Republican, said he was "disappointed" in the ruling and would discuss it further on a press conference on Thursday.
The other states that have won federal approval for the Medicaid work requirements are Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin. The New Hampshire claim, the next to enter into force, is the subject of a third lawsuit filed last week.