HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Shapiro administration and the Department of Human Services (DHS) is urging anyone enrolled in Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program, also known as Medical Assistance (MA), to make sure their contact information is correct so they can receive timely updates about their benefits. Under new federal law, continuous MA eligibility will be separated from the public health emergency and will end on April 1, 2023. By keeping contact information up-to-date, recipients of MA and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will receive timely, necessary updates about their coverage and benefits, so they are ready when it is time to renew their coverage.
These changes come following passage of the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 and will force states to resume normal MA renewal determination processes after April 1, 2023.
“Recent federal law changes Medicaid renewal guidelines, and we need everyone to be aware of those and know what they need to do to stay covered. In order to keep as many Pennsylvanians covered as possible, DHS needs the most accurate information available in our system so that when it is time to complete their annual renewal, Pennsylvanians can submit their renewal quickly and easily,” said DHS Acting Secretary Val Arkoosh. “Take the time now to ensure that your information is correct so when your renewal is due, you have what you need to avoid a potential disruption in coverage.”
The Department of Human Services, along with other agencies across the Commonwealth, is undertaking an aggressive, multi-pronged outreach plan to reach Pennsylvanians and inform them of the upcoming changes. Outreach to MA recipients has already begun and will continue to include mail, text, email, and phone calls to make sure that they are aware of the federal action affecting their benefits. DHS is also planning coordinated broad public communications via social media, community stakeholders, and press channels to notify the public of this change for MA recipients. This social media outreach – primarily for individuals to keep contact information up to date to receive information on time – has been ongoing for months now.
Changes to federal policy
The federal public health emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic allowed individuals to continue to remain enrolled in MA even if they became ineligible based on regular eligibility criteria, except in rare circumstances. This is also known as the MA continuous coverage requirement. On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 into law, which affects continuous MA coverage requirements.
No one will lose their health coverage without having an opportunity to complete a renewal, and renewals will be completed over 12 months. Renewals due in March 2023 will be the first affected by the end of continuous coverage. If a person is found ineligible for their current coverage or does not complete their renewal on time, their MA coverage will end. Pennsylvanians who are no longer eligible for MA will be referred to other sources of affordable medical coverage like CHIP and Pennie, the commonwealth’s health and dental insurance marketplace, so they have no lapse in quality, affordable health care. A schedule and examples of communications that MA and CHIP households will receive leading up to their renewal is available from DHS at: https://www.dhs.pa.gov/PHE/Pages/PHE-Individual-Communications.aspx
Prepare for renewals
Information about when a person’s annual renewal is scheduled can be found on COMPASS or on the myCOMPASS PA mobile app. Anyone can set up a COMPASS account at www.dhs.pa.gov/compass and, if they have a mobile device, can download the myCOMPASS PA mobile app for free. Instructional videos on downloading and using the myCOMPASS PA app are available on DHS’s YouTube channel. Those without computer or mobile access can call DHS’ Customer Service Center at: 1-877-395-8930 or (215) 560-7226 in Philadelphia, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., or visit their local County Assistance Office.
Keep contact information up to date to receive updates
Pennsylvanians whose contact information or personal circumstances have changed can use COMPASS to make the following updates to their case file at any time:
Changes to the number of people living in your household
Changes to your email address
Changes to your phone number
Changes to your mailing address
COMPASS also allows users to sign up to receive e-notifications about their benefits. Keeping information up to date will help Pennsylvanians receive reminders about their annual benefit renewal quickly so they can prevent an avoidable lapse in coverage or services.
Additionally, DHS encourages Pennsylvanians to opt-in to text messages to receive information about their benefits. The texts read:
“The PA Dept of Human Services would like to text you important messages about your benefits. Carrier rates may apply. To Opt In, please reply ‘YES.’”
If you receive a text like this from the number 1-833-648-1964, it is not a scam. Messages sent by DHS via text will never ask you for personal information, and you should not provide it. These are intended to be reminders about your benefits and other important information about programs administered by DHS and the federal government.
DHS will provide additional information on the end of continuous coverage and other benefits affected by changes to the federal public health emergency in the coming weeks. For more information on the end of continuous coverage for MA and CHIP, visit: www.dhs.pa.gov/phe.
For more information on health insurance options available to Pennsylvanians, visit: www.pa.gov/health-insurance.
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