US judge blocks Medicaid work requirements in New Hampshire

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REUTERS: A federal judge on Monday overturned the Trump administration’s approval of a plan by the state of New Hampshire to impose work requirements on people seeking to obtain benefits from the Medicaid health insurance program.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington came after the judge earlier this year blocked the Republican-led states of Arkansas and Kentucky from moving forward with similar plans.

The three states are among nine that have received approval from the U.S. Department and Health and Human Services under Republican President Donald Trump to impose requirements that people seeking coverage under Medicaid engage in work or job training.

But Boasberg said that, as with the plans by Arkansas and Kentucky, HHS had failed to contend with the possibility that New Hampshire’s proposal might cause a substantial number of people to lose healthcare coverage.

“In short, we have all seen this movie before,” he said.

Representatives for HHS and New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, a Republican, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ruling came in a lawsuit by four New Hampshire residents who alleged HHS had not followed proper rulemaking procedures in approving the state’s plan. The proposal required a waiver from HHS of requirements under the joint federal-state Medicaid program.

HHS approved the states’ projects as part of a push to put a conservative stamp on Medicaid, which expanded in 36 states following the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Richard Chang)