Trump administration sued over Medicaid work requirements in New Hampshire

Trump administration sued over Medicaid work requirements in New Hampshire
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Four low-income New Hampshire residents filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Trump administration for approving work requirements on the state's Medicaid program. 

The National Health Law Program (NHeLP), which is representing the residents, argues the administration wants to weaken the Medicaid program through work requirements. 

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"This approval will not promote coverage, but it will result in significant coverage losses, and that is the administration’s goal – to weaken the Medicaid program and cull people whom it deems unworthy from it,” NHeLP legal director Jane Perkins said in a statement.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is allowed under federal law to approve requests from states looking to experiment with how it delivers Medicaid coverage to its low-income citizens.

But NHeLP argues that the administration can't approve work requirements because it doesn't meet Medicaid's purpose of "furnishing medical assistance."

Medicaid users in New Hampshire will begin losing coverage in August if they don't comply with the requirements of working or volunteering at least 100 hours a month. 

The requirements will apply to those who gained coverage through ObamaCare's expansion of Medicaid to childless low-income adults, though there are exemptions for some, including pregnant women, caretakers and people with serious illnesses.

It's the third time the administration has been sued for approving work requirements in states, with rulings in Arkansas and Kentucky expected by the end of the month. NHeLP is also involved in those lawsuits.

About 18,000 people in Arkansas have lost Medicaid coverage since last summer for not complying with the requirements. The requirements in Kentucky take effect April 1.

The administration has approved Medicaid work requirements in nine states, and hasn't been slowed by the litigation. The most recent approval came Friday for Ohio. 

Most of the requirements were approved in states that expanded Medicaid to cover more low-income adults. 

The administration argues that these “able-bodied” adults should instead be working, and that Medicaid should be reserved for children, women who are pregnant, adults who are disabled and residents with very low incomes. 

"We know there is a strong connection between finding work and improving physical and mental health, and we want to pursue these goals in all our health and human services programs," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a speech last month. 

Opponents of requiring work in exchange for Medicaid coverage argue there's no proof that work requirements make people healthier.