Low-Income N.H. Residents Sue Over Medicaid Work Requirements

Mar 20, 2019

Credit NHPR Photo

Low-income residents of New Hampshire are suing the federal government over the state's work requirements for those enrolled under Medicaid expansion.

The National Health Law Program, New Hampshire Legal Assistance and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice sued on behalf of a 26-year-old sporting goods store cashier, a 40-year-old who does seasonal work and lives off the land, as well as a couple with three children.

[Related: Patients and Providers Anxiously Wait for Medicaid Work Requirement]

The rules require most recipients to spend at least 100 hours a month working, going to school or performing community service. The plaintiffs argue the requirements, which were passed as part of a bipartisan deal to continue the expanded health program, are costly and ineffective and will cause the most vulnerable residents to lose coverage.

“You can’t just make a bargain to bargain away people’s legal rights. You can’t just make a bargain so the executive can rewrite the Medicaid statute,” says Sarah Somers, an attorney with the National Health Law Program.

She points to a similar lawsuit challenging Kentucky's work requirement, which was struck down by a federal judge in 2018.

A spokesman for Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said his office may intervene in what he called a “partisan national organization coming in and trying to undo a bipartisan agreement by New Hampshire lawmakers in the best interest of New Hampshire citizens.”