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Capitol Health Call
May 12, 2004

Texas Overstep

JAMA. 2004;291(18):2183. doi:10.1001/jama.291.18.2183-c

A federal court has ruled that Texas legislators "overstepped federal law" by stripping Medicaid benefits from working individuals who use illegal drugs, abuse alcohol, or fail to prevent their children from being truant. Two women, an El Paso hospital district, and the Texas Welfare Reform Organization filed a lawsuit, and in December a Texas county judge issued a restraining order. The new ruling extends that order through the end of full proceedings.

Texas legislators passed the rules in an effort to redefine who qualified as a "working" adult. US District Judge Sam Sparks, who made the ruling, said "Congress did not authorize states in pursuit of broader social goals, no matter how desirable, to cut off Medicaid benefits to a welfare recipient who is, in fact, working."

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