While some New Hampshire hospitals will share information about work requirements with patients who fall under expanded Medicaid, the state’s largest health care organization said it’s not their responsibility.
In an email, a spokesman for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center wrote: “Under New Hampshire Medicaid’s community engagement requirements, our providers are not obligated to notify our patients of those requirements or make determinations about our patients’ compliance with those requirements.”
Spokesman Rick Adams did not elaborate in subsequent emails.
His remark contrasts with that of other hospitals and the New Hampshire Hospital Association, which said hospital intake counselors and financial-assistance workers will distribute information about the work requirement.
Hospitals and health care providers helped to sign thousands up for Medicaid when state officials expanded it in 2015.
Earlier this week, Gov. Chris Sununu announced he had signed legislation to extend the July deadline for expanded Medicaid patients to meet the work requirement, which the Trump administration approved late last year.
Officials acknowledged that thousands have not met the work requirement despite efforts such as direct mail, telephone calls, radio ads, information kiosks and door-to-door canvassing.
On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services issued revised figures and said that 16,637 had not met the work requirement as of July 8.
That represents two-thirds of those deemed eligible for the work and community engagement requirement.
Meyers said he’s asked hospitals to answer questions that Medicaid patients may have about the work requirement and to provide them with the necessary paperwork.
“It’s not the job of the hospital to do counseling for the work requirements. They’re there to provide health care services. They’re not job counselors,” he said.
Meyers gave another example of the challenges of signing up the patients, many who are homeless or struggle with drug addiction and mental health issues.
Of $3 million that had been earmarked to overcome barriers to the work requirements, only $50,000 had been spent as of June 30, when the program ended. Eligible participants could have received transportation, child care, tuition assistance and employer subsidies.
“Not a lot came forward to request assistance,” Meyers said. “Overall, what we’ve learned is this is a very difficult population to connect with.”
Vanessa Stafford, a spokesman for the New Hampshire Hospital Association, said several hospitals are hosting open houses to educate patients about the work requirement. The Department of Health and Human Services puts on the open houses, she said.
She also said hospital workers will distribute information about the requirement to patients during check in.
“That touch point is happening when patients are coming into the hospital. All the hospitals counsel patients,” Stafford said. Hospital workers would work with patients to let them know what they need to do to be in compliance, she said.
In Manchester, Elliot Hospital hosted an open house earlier this month about the work requirement. Catholic Medical Center will host one soon, its spokesman said.
“Elliot will continue to provide guidance and assistance to our patients as the state engages in outreach efforts,” Elliot spokesman Susanna Fier said in an email. Under no circumstances would Elliot deny health care due to coverage, she said.
At CMC, the hospital will use its channels to spread the word to patients about the work requirement, much like it does during open enrollment periods, said spokesman Lauren Collins-Cline.
The hospital never denies care based on an ability to pay, but it does encourage patients to know what their coverage is prior to treatment.