The governor expressed pride in gaining approval for the fourth and 'most robust work requirement in the nation.'
In a decision praised by Gov. Chris Sununu as "a transformative step towards a more thriving workforce," state and federal officials announced Monday afternoon that New Hampshire is the fourth state to be granted a waiver to impose work requirements on certain Medicaid beneficiaries.
Sununu, a Republican, said the change will both control Medicaid program costs and help to lift people out of poverty by encouraging them to gain skills for personal independence.
"We are committed to helping more people get into the workforce, as it is critical not only for individuals but also for our economy as a whole," Sununu said in a statement, thanking Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma and lauding New Hampshire's policy as "the most robust work requirement in the nation."
Verma, who congratulated Sununu on the news, had foreshadowed the announcement during a speech Monday morning.
New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeff Meyers said the so-called "community engagement requirement" will help improve the lives of Medicaid beneficiaries in the state.
The waiver is in effect from Monday through the end of 2018, according to an approval letter released by Sununu's office.
Whether the feds would approve New Hampshire's waiver request has been a contentious question for some time in the state, as The Concord Monitor's Ethan DeWitt reported. Since the state expanded its Medicaid program in 2014, Republicans have pushed for a work requirement.
State lawmakers had passed a measure that would have shuttered the program if the federal government didn't approve the waiver by April 30, 2018, a deadline that was bumped back earlier this year to May 30, 2018, as the Monitor reported.
The states to secure waivers for work requirements before New Hampshire were Kentucky, Indiana, and Arkansas, each of which had expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The work requirements would apply only to beneficiaries who gained coverage under the expansion, as Kaiser Health News reported.
Editor's note: This story was updated Tuesday, May 8, to include additional information.
Steven Porter is editor at HealthLeaders.