N.H., Maine on board with Medicaid work requirement

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New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (New Hampshire Business Review photo)

CONCORD - New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu today praised the Trump administration's decision to allow individual states the right to require Medicaid recipients to work in order to receive benefits.

About 70 million people nationwide currently have Medicaid, which was expanded during the Obama administration to include healthy, working age citizens.

The Trump administration announced Thursday that it will now allow states the ability to impose work requirements for Medicaid recipients who do not have an acute health condition or covered disability that would prevent them from working.

"Today's announcement by CMS regarding new flexibility for states to create Medicaid work requirements is good news for New Hampshire's pending waiver application," Sununu said today.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services described the decision as a response to requests from states to test work requirement programs.

"Medicaid needs to be more flexible so that states can best address the needs of this population. Our fundamental goal is to make a positive and lasting difference in the health and wellness of our beneficiaries, and today's announcement is a step in that direction," CMS Administrator Seema Verna said in a statement.

Sununu said that not only will the new policy help with out of control Medicaid costs, but it could lead to upward mobility and a greater sense of pride for many.

"Work requirements offer opportunities to lifting individuals out of poverty, empower them with the dignity of work and self-reliability while also allowing states to control the costs of their Medicaid programs," Sununu said. "They also assist people to gain the skills necessary for long-term independence and success."

A letter sent to state Medicaid directors Thursday said the move would help "improve Medicaid enrollee health and well-being through incentivizing work and community engagement."

"Our policy guidance was in response to states that asked us for the flexibility they need to improve their programs and to help people in achieving greater well-being and self-sufficiency," Verma said, noting the agency has received demonstration project proposals from 10 states, including both New Hampshire and Maine.

The test programs, according to CMS, could make work, "skills training, education, job search, volunteering or caregiving" a requirement for Medicaid for "able-bodied, working-age adults." It would not apply to those getting benefits due to a "disability, elderly beneficiaries, children, and pregnant women."

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