Requirement will hurt residents

New Hampshire is about to enact the harshest work requirement in the United States on people who rely on Medicaid for health care. Earlier this year, when the New Hampshire Legislature re-authorized the state’s Medicaid Expansion Program, they requested a waiver from the federal government to institute a work requirement. People who rely on Medicaid will now be required to work 25 hours a week or 100 hours a month to receive health insurance. If paid work cannot be found, unpaid community service can be substituted.

People who don’t have access to health care are more likely to become sick and remain sick, making them less likely to be able to work at all.

If granted, these changes may lead to loss of health insurance for people who don’t have the stamina to work 25 hours a week. Seasonal and self-employed workers who experience gaps in employment may also lose coverage because they won’t meet the required 100 hours every month. Some people live in areas of the state where finding suitable employment may be very difficult or lack of reliable transportation makes it challenging to get to a job. Many who are able to work part-time now will lose the health care we all need to be healthy and productive workers.

Some important questions need to be asked of and answered by those responsible for deciding whether to impose this requirement:

What is the cost of administering this program compared to the benefits to taxpayers?

Given the very low unemployment rate in New Hampshire, how will people with young children pay the costs of child care if they are forced to take low-wage or non-paying jobs?

How will people living in rural areas access and pay for the transportation needed to get to a job?

How much will taxpayers need to contribute to hospitals and other health care providers to make up for the costs of uncompensated care for people who have lost access to Medicaid insurance?

Since retroactive coverage would be eliminated, what will be the cost to clinics, recovery centers and community health centers for services already delivered.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services needs to hear from us. Contact them with information about how this harsh, unnecessary and counter-productive law would affect us, our loved ones and our neighbors.

The comment period, where the public can weigh in on whether the government should grant the waiver, is currently underway. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. on Thursday. If you will be impacted by this or want to weigh in, submit comments to nhmedicaidcaremanagement@dhhs.nh.gov.

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