Renewing Medicaid Coverage Begins April 1st for the First Time in Three Years
Pennsylvania families who rely on Medicaid for health insurance for themselves and their children will begin seeing a big change to the rules in a few days. Starting April 1st, the process of Medicaid renewals will begin in which DHS will check whether enrollees still qualify for coverage.
For those who no longer meet eligibility requirements, DHS can terminate Medicaid enrollment for the first time in three years. Those who remain eligible must renew their coverage to stay enrolled.
As would be expected, pausing disenrollments for three years has had a significant impact on the total number of enrollees. Child enrollment has increased by 21%, so more than 1.4 million children are enrolled in Medicaid. Based on estimates from DHS, we anticipate that 1 in 4 children currently enrolled in Medicaid are at risk of losing their health insurance when the renewal process begins.
DHS has emphasized that enrollees will not automatically lose coverage before they have a chance to reapply. The most critical action enrollees can take is to ensure their contact information (phone number and mailing address) is up-to-date.
The DHS renewal webpage has helpful resources, including FAQs and a communications toolkit. PPC and other advocates have assisted DHS in preparing for this transition back to the pre-pandemic annual renewal process for over a year. We are working with DHS through the process of reinstating Medicaid renewals as it plays out over the next 12 months. Stay tuned as we report on how this process impacts children’s health insurance coverage.
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House Budget Hearings Kick Off with Department of Education
The House Appropriations Committee started its 2023 state budget hearing schedule with the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The all-day affair featured acting-Secretary Dr. Khalid Mumin, who testified alongside Jessica Sites, PDE’s Bureau of Budget and Fiscal Management Director, and PDE’s Executive Deputy Secretary Angela Fitterer. The most discussed issues were school choice and proposed increases to the Basic Education Funding formula. Several members cited the school funding lawsuit as why Shapiro’s BEF increase proposal does not go far enough. Other recurring questions revolved around the free school breakfast program, pre-k, and career and technical education.
During the hearing, Rep. Emily Kinkead asked the department why the administration’s proposal includes offering free school breakfast but not universal free lunch. Dr. Mumin stated that including free lunch with the free breakfast program would increase the ask from $38.5 million to $435 million. He added that while free lunches are a future goal, this initial investment in breakfast is a first step in the right direction. Rep. Josh Siegel noted the waiting list for pre-k. He pointed out that early care educators are underpaid—he emphasized that early education is the most substantive investment in the Commonwealth’s young people. Dr. Mumin echoed the importance and suggested that the $30 million investment in Pre-K Counts not only helps families and children but also includes hiring and retention of staff. Reps. Fleming, Kutz, and Madsen all asked about the investment in CTE, with PDE sharing the $7 million investment will help expand operations to enroll more students (an additional $7 million in the proposal would focus on attracting teachers to Career and Technical Centers and enhance STEM programming for a total increase of $14 million in the CTE subsidy line). Additionally, the $3 million increase in the equipment grant line will allow programs to enhance students’ education and improve program sustainability.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will host PDE for its budget hearing on Wednesday, March 29th at 9:30 AM. Look for a recap in our next e-news in addition to covering today’s hearing in the House with the Department of Health.