SNAP and Medical Assistance Benefits are Changing!
Navigating Changes in SNAP and Medical Assistance
What you need to know:
- Starting in March, 2023, SNAP recipient households will no longer receive the Emergency Allotment (EA) additional payment created during COVID-19 and will resume receiving one SNAP payment per month.
- Context: DHS began providing EAs as a second monthly payment to SNAP recipient households that were receiving benefits since March 2020. The EAs increased the SNAP budget amount to the maximum available amount for their household size or, since early 2021, were a minimum of $95. These payments were distributed separate from the initial payment as an extra payment each month.
- This change will happen for all SNAP recipients, with households receiving letters via mail about the change in SNAP payments.
Advice for families:
- Report changes to household size, income, or expenses online at www.dhs.pa.gov/COMPASS, via the myCOMPASS PA mobile app, or by calling DHS's Customer Service Center at 877-395-8930. This will help ensure households are receiving the maximum SNAP benefit based off their individual circumstances.
- SNAP recipients who are pregnant or have kids under 5 may be able to get help buying food from PA WIC. You can call 1-800-WIC-WINS or apply online at www.pawic.com
- You can call 211 or visit www.pa211.org to connect with various local food resources;
- Call The Hub at 215-348-6201 or email Thehub@buckscounty.org for assistance navigating available resources;
- Visit www.bcoc.org/food-pantries/ for a comprehensive list of food pantries broken down by region of county.
- Register for Fresh Connect, a free farmers market: https://bcoc.org/fresh-connect/
- In emergency situations, contact the Bucks County Opportunity council at 215-345-8175
Medical Assistance & CHIP Renewals
What you need to know:
- Effective April 1, 2023 continuous coverage for MA and CHIP will end.
- As of April 1, 2023, DHS must end MA and/or CHIP coverage if a person does not complete their renewal or if they have income or other changes that make them ineligible for MA or CHIP at the time of their renewal.
- Renewals will take place over 12 months, and no one will be disenrolled without having a chance to complete a renewal.
- This means that all MA and CHIP recipients must complete an annual renewal to see if they are still eligible for coverage.
- Context: In March 2020, the federal government allowed states to keep Medicaid and CHIP coverage open regardless of eligibility as part of COVID-19 pandemic relief. Pennsylvania continued to send annual renewal packets during this time, but most people did not lose coverage for changes in income or for not completing their renewal.
What families should know:
- They will get a renewal packet in the mail when it is time to renew their MA. Families will start to receive information in the mail about their renewal 90 days before it is due.
- If families do not return the renewal packet, DHS will have to end coverage.
- Everyone's renewal date is different. They will start to get information about their renewals about 90 days before it’s due.
- Not all renewals will be sent right after April 1, 2023. The process of doing everyone's renewals will take 12 months.
- Families need to complete renewals regardless of whether anything has changed. By completing the renewal, DHS can keep MA or CHIP coverage open or connect families to other affordable health coverage options if they no longer qualify. There are four ways to complete and submit renewals:
- By mail — Complete and return the forms by mailing them back in the provided envelope;
- Online — Complete your renewal online in COMPASS;
- Telephone — Call 1-866-550-4355 to talk to a customer service representative;
- In-Person — Complete and submit your renewal in person at any local county assistance office (CAO)
Advice for families:
- The best thing families can do now is make sure their address and phone number are up-to-date with DHS so they can send important information about coverage. Families can update their information by contacting the Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930, or report it online through their COMPASS account.
- If the family’s renewal shows they are no longer eligible for MA, there are options to stay covered.
- If an individual is not eligible for MA and are age 19 or older, DHS will send the information provided from the renewal to Pennie, the health insurance marketplace. Pennie can help families review coverage options and learn about financial assistance that may be available to help you pay for coverage.
- DHS will send a letter telling families that they have sent their information to Pennie.
- Children who are under 19 and not eligible for MA will be directly connected to CHIP and parents will learn more about coverage.
- If families believe a mistake was made when conducting the renewal and family was found ineligible for MA, there is an appeal process. Directions for how to appeal are on the notice sent from DHS. Families can also provide information that may have not been provided in the renewal packet, and DHS can check to see if that changes eligibility.
If you or someone you know is in need of food, please see the list of Food Pantries and other Food Assistance Programs available to Bucks County residents.
Please call the Hub at 215-348-6201, E-mail the Hub or visit us at 55 East Court Street, Doylestown, PA 18901 if you need help accessing food.
We are here to help!