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Hearing for NH Bill to Repeal Medicaid Work Mandate

Democrats in the New Hampshire House are working to repeal the 100-hour-a-month work requirement for Medicaid beneficiaries before it takes effect. (Rep. Rebecca McWilliams/Facebook)
Democrats in the New Hampshire House are working to repeal the 100-hour-a-month work requirement for Medicaid beneficiaries before it takes effect. (Rep. Rebecca McWilliams/Facebook)
February 6, 2019

CONCORD, N.H. - People who receive Medicaid benefits in New Hampshire soon will have to prove they're working or volunteering at least 100 hours a month. But the idea of ending that requirement is making some headway in the Legislature.

Backers of House Bill 690 want to repeal the work requirement passed last year. The bill gets a public hearing today in the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee. State Rep. Rebecca McWilliams, D-Merrimack, a co-author of the bill, questioned whether the work mandate serves the purpose of Medicaid.

"The goal of Medicaid is to furnish medical assistance to citizens," she said. "And so, does this 100-hour-a-month work and community engagement requirement actually furnish medical assistance to citizens?"

Five House Democrats are sponsoring the bill. The committee hearing is to start at 2 p.m. in Room 205 of the Legislative Office Building. Meanwhile, a state Senate bill proposes reducing the requirements, including lowering the work mandate to 80 hours a month. McWilliams said one of the major hurdles for the bill could be the federal government, which approved the work requirement last year.

"Anything that we do now to change the bill, there is that potential to be losing our federal funding, because we're trying to modify a program that has already been reviewed by the federal government."

In Arkansas, the first state to implement a work mandate for Medicaid, nearly 17,000 people have lost their coverage since the requirement started in June. A federal oversight panel in the fall recommended the state pause the requirement because of the sudden drop in coverage.

McWilliams said she believes Montana's Medicaid program would be a better example for New Hampshire to replicate.

"We should be looking at the things that other states have done well, like Montana, with their voluntary program," she said. "It focuses on training and getting a GED, rather than requirements, reporting."

The New Hampshire work mandate is expected to begin in March.

The text of HB 690 is online at legiscan.com.

Laura Rosbrow-Telem, Public News Service - NH