New Hampshire Legal Assistance

Helping to balance the scales of justice for everyone since 1971.

Federal Court Vacates New Hampshire Medicaid Work Requirements

Posted Jul 30, 2019

Statement on the United States District Court's decision in Philbrick v. Azar


Please see the below press release from our litigation partners at the National Health Law Program:

July 29, 2019.

Washington, D.C. – A federal judge has once again vacated the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ approval of a section 1115 Medicaid waiver project that would drastically cut Medicaid coverage, this time in New Hampshire. As in a handful of other states, the federal government had given New Hampshire permission to condition Medicaid coverage on work requirements and to eliminate 3-months’ retroactive coverage. “In short, we have all seen this movie before,” stated Judge James E. Boasberg, who has vacated similar projects in Arkansas and Kentucky.

National Health Law Program Legal Director Jane Perkins said, “We are pleased with Judge Boasberg’s decision and the speed with which he made it. Seventeen thousand limited-income people in New Hampshire were facing termination, so this opinion vacating the project will not only maintain their health insurance coverage, but allow them to go about their lives without the fear of losing coverage hanging over their heads. Coverage matters because it enables people to live, work, and participate as fully as they can in their communities.”

“Judge Boasberg’s decision makes clear that federal agencies must engage in reasoned decision making, which is not what happened here,” Perkins continued. “Rather than consider the Medicaid Act’s aim of furnishing medical assistance, Secretary Azar continued to double down on his consideration of other aims for Medicaid — goals that we have argued will achieve the administration’s stated aim of exploding the ACA’s Medicaid expansion.”

National Center for Law and Economic Justice Senior Attorney Travis England said, “New Hampshire’s plan would have disproportionately harmed low-income people living with chronic health conditions, so today’s decision affirms that the purpose of Medicaid is to make medically necessary health services accessible to those who would otherwise not be able to afford them.  Medicaid work requirement waivers are arbitrary and capricious, and Judge Boasberg’s decision should send yet another signal to the Trump Administration that they cannot dismantle Medicaid by taking coverage away from people who are unable to meet work rules.”

“New Hampshire Legal Assistance has long opposed conditioning Medicaid on work and we are so pleased with today’s federal court decision,” added New Hampshire Legal Assistance Policy Director Dawn McKinney. “Judge Boasberg cited even greater coverage-loss concerns than Kentucky’s and Arkansas’s, given New Hampshire’s harsher mandate for more hours and applying that to a larger age range. We especially applaud the four Medicaid recipients, from various parts of New Hampshire, who filed this lawsuit to make sure that thousands of Granite Staters would not lose precious health coverage.”

To speak with Jane Perkins at the National Health Law Program, please contact Andy DiAntonio at diantonio@healthlaw.org or 202.621.1023. Dawn McKinney can be reached by phone at 603.206.2228. Travis England can be reached at 212.633.6967. Read Philbrick v. Azar here.

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National Health Law Program founded in 1969 advocates for the rights of low-income and underserved people to access comprehensive health care. New Hampshire Legal Assistance is a non-profit civil legal aid law firm that represents low-income and elderly clients in cases impacting their basic needs – including housing, subsistence income, and safety from domestic abuse. NHLA has offices in Berlin, Claremont, Concord, Manchester and Portsmouth. For more information about New Hampshire Legal Assistance, please contact Executive Director Sarah Mattson Dustin at smattsondustin@nhla.org