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Gov. Sununu: Medicaid work requirement likely to be OK'd

State House Bureau

November 29. 2017 11:26PM
Gov. Chris Sununu meets with Vice President Mike Pence during a Wednesday visit to Washington. (COURTESY)

CONCORD — New Hampshire’s plan to implement a work requirement for able-bodied adults in the state’s expanded Medicaid program is likely to receive federal approval, according to Gov. Chris Sununu, who sounded upbeat about the prospect after a round of meetings in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

The Legislature in the last session passed a bill, since signed into law, that would require the state to terminate the expansion of Medicaid to approximately 50,000 additional New Hampshire residents if the federal waiver needed to implement a work requirement is denied.

The state had sought a similar waiver from the Obama Administration, which was denied, but maintained the program for another two years anyway. Its continuation beyond 2018 now depends on the work requirement waiver, which Sununu now believes is forthcoming.

The governor and other high-ranking state officials met with Seema Verma, chief administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which administers the health insurance program for low-income Americans.

Also on hand for that meeting were Senate President Chuck Morse, Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley and Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers, all of whom have been major players in the Medicaid expansion.

Sununu said Verma and her staff sounded very optimistic about the likelihood that the work requirement waiver requested by New Hampshire and a handful of other states would be approved.

“I don’t know if I would classify it as an assurance, but I was told that all the work requirement waivers they were working on would soon be coming forward and released,” said Sununu in a telephone debriefing on the meeting with reporters. “It was all discussed in a very positive manner, so we are very hopeful.”

The governor was in the nation’s capital on Tuesday and Wednesday in his role as a board member of an organization known as Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), attending a reception and awards presentation on Tuesday night and a board meeting on Wednesday.

He also managed to arrange several meetings with high-ranking officials in the Trump Administration, including Vice President Mike Pence. “We talked a lot about Medicaid and the opioid crisis,” said Sununu. “Those were the two hot topics, making sure that we could have some flexibility.”

Sununu also met with presidential advisers Kellyanne Conway on the opioid crisis, and Jared Kushner on regulatory reform.

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