For Immediate Release
February 18, 2020   
Contact: Abby M. Reitz, Communications Manager
       703-942-5711 #230

NAELA Celebrates US Court of Appeals for DC District Decision on 1115 Medicaid Waiver
Judges Unanimously Decide Arkansas Waiver Does Not Meet Objectives of Medicaid

Washington, DC — Last week, the D.C. Court of Appeals overturned the Secretary of Health and Human Services approval of Arkansas’s Section 1115 Medicaid waiver, which imposed harmful restrictions, such as work requirements, on certain Medicaid beneficiaries in the state. In the three-judge panel, all judges agreed that the waiver did not meet the objectives of Medicaid, which is to further medical coverage. The opinion stated that: "Arkansas Works was arbitrary and capricious" and affirmed the District Court's ruling on Arkansas's 1115 waiver demonstration. This will make using Section 1115 waivers to restrict access to Medicaid much more difficult to survive any legal challenge.

Read the opinion on Gresham v. Azar.

The case was originally consolidated with Stewart v. Azar, which challenged approval of a similar waiver project in Kentucky. The Court dismissed that case as moot after the newly elected Governor terminated the project to protect the health and welfare of Kentuckians.

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) signed onto an amicus brief along with AARP, Justice in Aging, and Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) in Stewart, et al. v. Azar (the Kentucky Medicaid waiver case). The amicus argues that federal officials have granted the state of Kentucky a broad waiver of certain long-standing Medicaid protections and that this waiver does not assist in promoting the objectives of the Kentucky Medicaid program.

“Medicaid is a lifeline for many people with disabilities and older adults. The DC Court of Appeals decision helps protect those populations from any future waiver proposals that seeks to restrict access and limit eligibility to the program,” said NAELA President Jennifer L. VanderVeen, CELA, CAP, NAELA Fellow.

Learn more about NAELA Advocacy.

Members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) are attorneys who are experienced and trained in working with the legal problems of aging Americans and individuals of all ages with disabilities. Upon joining, NAELA member attorneys agree to adhere to the NAELA Aspirational Standards. Established in 1987, NAELA is a non-profit association that assists lawyers, bar organizations, and others. The mission of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys is educate, inspire, serve, and provide community to attorneys with practices in elder and special needs law. NAELA currently has members across the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit, or to locate a NAELA member attorney in your area, visit

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