Starting April 17, 2023, applications and renewals for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will be processed by the County Assistance Offices (CAOs). After this date, CHIP managed care plans will no longer handle renewals and will no longer take applications. It is important to note that CHIP benefits are not changing, and children will still get their CHIP coverage through the same managed care plans. The CHIP plans will also continue to collect the monthly premium from families when applicable. As a reminder, some children qualify for free-CHIP while others qualify for low-cost CHIP or full-cost CHIP. The premium amounts are based on family income.
After the change takes effect next month, CHIP applications and renewals will be processed through the COMPASS website or on the MyCOMPASS PA mobile app in addition to traditional paper applications. Presently, people can apply to either the CAO or CHIP and applications are shared between the two systems depending on whether the child appears eligible for Medical Assistance (Medicaid) or CHIP. This referral process can cause delays and sometimes additional paperwork is needed by the other system to complete the application process after it is referred. Presently, CHIP managed care plans handle the yearly renewals. The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) believes that this change will streamline the application and renewal process for families. At a recent meeting, DHS representatives reported that 70 percent of CHIP applications already start at the CAOs. Children will be assessed for Medicaid and CHIP through one application and be enrolled in either program based on family income. At renewal, children can move between programs more seamlessly if there has been a change in family income. DHS officials also noted that the new process will prevent multiple renewals when families have people in both Medicaid and CHIP.
CHIP families should have received notice of this change by mail from both DHS and their child’s CHIP managed care plan. If you did not get this notice or you have questions about how this change affects your child, please contact your child’s CHIP plan or the DHS Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930. Readers can click here for more information about this change, including answers to many Frequently Asked Questions.
Advocates remain concerned about staff capacity at the CAOs and potential delays. This change to CHIP application and renewal processing is starting at the same time CAOs will begin processing a record number of Medicaid renewals following the end of the COVID-era continuous coverage protections. PHLP and other advocates will continue monitoring the roll out of this CHIP transition over the coming months.