HHS chief to end tenure, not seeking second 4-year term

Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers speaks during a recent news conference with Gov. Chris Sununu. Meyers announced Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, he would not be seeking another four-year term at his post and would leave in early December.

CONCORD — State officials have started to send canvassers  door to door in an attempt to locate some 16,800 recipients of expanded Medicaid who fall under New Hampshire’s work requirement for the health care program.

Gov. Chris Sununu and Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffery Meyers laid out the plan on Monday when Sununu announced he had signed legislation that gives Meyers the ability to extend the deadline for meeting the work requirement. Meyers announced he was extending it for 120 days.

Sununu said outreach efforts have included direct mail, radio ads, information booths and grocery and retail stores and text messages. They’ve also asked health care providers to inform patients of the requirements.

“No other state has taken the efforts, and I think the pains if you will, of making sure we are engaging with this population as aggressively as we can,” Sununu said. “Making sure we get this right is absolutely paramount.”

Sununu signed the law on what had been the deadline for beneficiaries of expanded Medicaid to either meet work requirements or show they qualify under exemptions such as parental responsibilities or medical frailty.

Here’s how the numbers break down, as of June 2019:

  • Number of people on expanded Medicaid: 40,818.
  • Number of expanded Medicaid beneficiaries exempt from the work requirement: 15,923.
  • Number complying with the work requirement: 8,021.
  • Number of beneficiaries who have not responded to outreach efforts: 16,874.

“This is a population that has a lot of barriers to connect to programs,” Meyers said. More than 3,000 are homeless, some are medically frail, some of substance abuse and mental health issues.

The door-to-door canvassing will take place in neighborhoods with high enrollment of Medicaid but low responses. Those include neighborhoods in Manchester, Nashua and Laconia. Workers will go to every door, not just those with a Medicaid address.

During the press conference, Sununu stressed the efforts underway to get the word out as well as for recipients to log their work hours with Medicaid officials. Programs in other states have run into trouble under such issues.

 The latest deadline is Sept. 30, but neither Meyers nor Sununu said it was final.

“We’ll have to assess,” Sununu said, regarding what happens in September. “We just started the door-to-door effort literally a week ago. “This is a new process. No one is doing it like we’ve done it. We’re just trying to get it right.”

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