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Report: N.H.'s Medicaid Work Requirement Will Have Unintended Consequences

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Allegra Boverman for NHPR
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A new report from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argues the rollout of New Hampshire's work requirement for expanded Medicaid beneficiaries is doomed to the same problems that have hampered a similar policy in Arkansas.

In June of 2018 Arkansas became the first state in the country to implement a work requirement for recipients of expanded Medicaid. So far, that policy has resulted in almost 17,000 beneficiaries losing coverage.

The rapid disenrollment of Arkansas beneficiaries led a nonpartisan federal oversight panel to recommend the program be paused until changes could be made.

The CBPP report argues the Arkansas experience is a cautionary tale for what could happen next in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire state officials have pledged to do a better job of educating beneficiaries than Arkansas did, through telemarketing, public meetings, mailers, and radio advertisements. Earlier this week, the Executive Council authorized an $89,000 contract for a telemarketing campaign to educate beneficiaries about the new requirement.

But Judy Solomon, who authored the CBPP report, argues New Hampshire's public outreach efforts are likley to fall short in explaining the work requirement's complicated rules.

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Credit Sara Plourde for NHPR
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"It's really hard to get people to understand them. You really need sort of almost one-on-one explanation. There is no way, you know, calling people on the phone -- what they found in Arkansas is that it was really hard to reach people on the phone. They didn't pick up or their numbers changed. So they made a lot of outbound calls but they didn't reach a lot of people."

New Hampshire's work requirement for Medicaid expansion beneficiaries is set to go into effect on March 1st.

According to an early estimate from DHHS, between 5,000 and 15,000 people may end up being required to submit their "community engagement" hours on a monthly basis.

Jason Moon is a senior reporter and producer on the Document team. He has created longform narrative podcast series on topics ranging from unsolved murders, to presidential elections, to secret lists of police officers.

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