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Pennsylvanians will start losing Medicaid coverage next month

Dr. Val Arkoosh discusses Medicaid and the end of COVID-19-era polices at Pittsburgh's East End Cooperative Ministry.
Sarah Boden
90.5 WESA
Dr. Val Arkoosh discusses Medicaid and the end of COVID-19-era polices at Pittsburgh's East End Cooperative Ministry.

Pennsylvanians will need to re-enroll in Medicaid by early May, or risk losing their coverage, due to the end of COVID-19 era policies.

Some 3.6 million Pennsylvanians are beneficiaries of the government’s insurance program for low-income people. For the past three years, recipients didn’t have to do any paperwork to keep their Medicaid coverage, but that’s now ending: People are again required to apply annually to maintain their enrollment.

Expiration dates for Medicaid policies are rolling and specific to each person. Though policies began ending in April, people have a 30-day grace period after their deadline to reapply to the program or find other insurance. During that window, a person can also appeal the loss of their Medicaid coverage if the state determines they are no longer eligible: People may maintain their Medicaid coverage as the appeal processes, extending it for another two months.

While speaking at East End Cooperative Ministry, a Pittsburgh nonprofit that serves low-income community members, Dr. Val Arkoosh, the acting Secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services, acknowledged that the changes to Medicaid are significant.

“Our goal throughout this process is to make sure that every Pennsylvanian stays covered, even if they need to switch from Medicaid to another plan,” said Arkoosh.

Everyone enrolled in Medicaid is encouraged to complete re-enrollment paperwork, regardless of whether they know they no longer qualify due to income restrictions. Doing so makes it easier for people to sign up for alternative health care coverage because their application is shared with Pennie, the state-run insurance exchange.

Chachi Angelo, Pennie’s director of external affairs, describes this process as a warm handoff as the exchange will then set up an account for the former Medicaid recipient and provide them an estimate of the cost of their insurance: ““All that will have to happen then is just come in and choose a plan based on what works best for you and your family.”

People will start getting notices that their Medicaid coverage is set to expire roughly 90 days beforehand. Therefore, DHS encourages Medicaid recipients to make sure her department has their updated emails, phone numbers and addresses.

Sarah Boden