Top Health Officials in Pennsylvania Highlight Efforts to Help People Navigate Medicaid Changes

Pennsylvania candidate for governor, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, at podium, accompanied by Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh, State Sen. Amanda Cappelletti, and State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Philadelphia, speaks during a news conference in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

By Sean Kitchen

July 14, 2023

Officials from the Shapiro Administration are raising awareness to federal changes to the Medicaid and CHIP programs. Residents are advised to use Pennie if they lose healthcare coverage through those programs.  

Pennsylvania’s top health officials visited Pittsburgh Thursday to highlight the Shapiro Administration’s efforts to help Pennsylvanians navigate recent federal changes to the Medicaid and CHIP requirements.

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh and Pennsylvania Insurance Department Deputy Commissioner Shannen Logue joined representatives from the Primary Care Health Services, who provide primary and preventative health care services to underserved communities in Allegheny County, to raise awareness about the changes to Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  

“I am proud to work with community health centers across Pennsylvania to spread the word about Medicaid renewals because these centers are trusted resources that help individuals and families live healthier lives,” Secretary Arkoosh said in a statement.

“Most of us know someone who receives Medicaid for their health coverage, so I ask all Pennsylvanians to join us in encouraging their friends, loved ones, and neighbors to stay covered by updating their contact information with DHS today and completing their renewal on time,” she continued.  

For the past three years, individuals were allowed to remain enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, without having to reapply each year as usual, thanks to a pandemic-era policy. However, that changed at the end of March and all residents receiving Medicaid or CHIP benefits must once again complete their annual renewal form when it is due to determine if they’re still eligible for coverage.  

According to a press statement issued by the Department of Human Services, no one will lose their Medicaid or CHIP coverage without having the opportunity to renew their coverage or update their information.

 As of June, over 97,000 Pennsylvanians have been disenrolled from these two programs. Fifty-sex percent of those who lost their coverage were determined ineligible to receive benefits, while 44% lost their coverage due to procedural issues. Procedural disenrollments occur when someone did not complete the renewal process or when the state has outdated contact information. 

The renewal process will be completed through April 2024 and if a person is found ineligible, they will lose their Medicaid or CHIP coverage. Those who lose their coverage are being advised to seek coverage through Pennie, which is the commonwealth’s official online health insurance marketplace. 

“Any individual who finds themselves facing a loss of coverage through Medicaid should consider Pennie as an option to maintain health insurance for themselves and their families,” said Deputy Commissioner Logue. 

“Coverage through Pennie has never been more affordable than it is now, and there are multiple avenues to get comprehensive coverage with financial assistance. PID is committed to helping Pennsylvanians find access to affordable, quality health care coverage, and to making obtaining coverage as easy as possible.”

Due to President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, marketplace insurance plans are now more affordable than ever. The legislation extended marketplace subsidies through 2025, ensuring that roughly 76,000 Pennsylvanians were able to keep their health insurance and another 270,000 Pennsylvanians didn’t have to pay more for their insurance plans. 

Those same subsidies could now help at least some of those who’ve lost Medicaid coverage get affordable Pennie plans. 

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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