In January, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) renewed the COVID-related public health emergency (PHE). The current extension will expire on April 16, 2022 unless extended further. This means the maintenance of effort provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act remain in effect until April 30, 2022 (the end of the month in which the PHE ends). As such, states, like Pennsylvania, must maintain their Medicaid eligibility levels and enrollment procedures that were in effect as of January 1, 2020. In exchange for not dropping people from Medicaid, the federal government is giving states a 6.2% increase in the federal matching rate for payments.
There have been rumors that the Biden Administration indicated to Congress an intent to continue the PHE beyond April 16, but the extension may not be for another full 90 days as with all previous extensions. Should the PHE end in 2022, Pennsylvania will return to pre-PHE eligibility and enrollment rules, and will need to redetermine eligibility for impacted enrollees. Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians could lose coverage if they are no longer eligible or face administrative barriers during the process despite remaining eligible.
During public meetings held in January 2022, Pennsylvania Medicaid officials reported it is not their intent to redetermine eligibility for all 3.4 million Medicaid enrollees the day after the PHE ends. The Department is meeting regularly to determine how to unwind the continuous enrollment requirement. Managed care organizations in HealthChoices and Community HealthChoices are viewed as allies in communicating with enrollees and helping them with redetermination paperwork when the time comes.
A PHE can be extended as many times as deemed necessary by the HHS Secretary. Again, as stated above, the current continuous enrollment requirement ends April 30, 2022. This means states could begin processing renewals as of May 1, 2022.
It is important to update your address and other case information with the County Assistance Office, especially if you have moved during the pandemic. All renewal documents will be mailed to the address on file with the County Assistance Office. To report changes to your case file, you can either a) submit the change online through your My COMPASS Account, or b) call the Statewide Customer Service Center toll free number at 1-877-395-8930 (in Philadelphia, call 215-560-7226.)
PHLP will keep readers informed of any updates around the PHE as we learn them.