The Pandemic era Medicaid auto-enrollment policy ended on April 1st. Now hundreds of thousands of people are expected to lose their medical coverage all while staffing shortages are slowing down the processing of applications by county assistance offices state-wide.
Medicaid is a joint Federal and State health insurance program that provides coverage for people under a certain income threshold. During the pandemic, lawmakers passed a rule that kept people automatically enrolled in the program, even if they no longer met the requirements for coverage. The Pennsylvania Department of Human services reported a staffing shortage in county assistance offices state-wide which has the potential for slowing down the application processes.
We asked them about the potential for people to be deemed ineligible for some of our surrounding counties and in a statement
“Based on estimates from January 2023, which come from December 2022 enrollment data. The following are approximate numbers for people who could be ineligible based off their previous renewal.
This does not include people who have not completed a renewal in the last three years.”
In a recent budget proposal by Gov. Josh Shapiro, the total number of workers across all of DHS has shrunk from about 15,300 in 2020 to 13,700 in 2022, which is about an 11% drop.
“DHS is currently seeing a slightly higher than average vacancy rate within some our County Assistance Offices (CAOs), in line with what other human services employers have experienced over the course of the pandemic. The Shapiro Administration has taken steps to improve our employment policies to create quality workplaces and sustainable career opportunities while we ensure that Pennsylvanians continue to receive high-quality services from our CAOs.”
We also asked them about county offices in our service area
“These offices are either fully or very near fully staffed, and we do not currently have or project capacity challenges for these locations. These counties are to complete work assigned to these counties and to assist other CAOs across the Commonwealth as necessary.”
Distributing case loads across counties is nothing new to the department.
“DHS’ Office of Income Maintenance (OIM) will continue to monitor workloads across the CAOs and move work as necessary to other locations in an effort to ensure it is completed within established timelines. This is a typical process OIM has redistributed work to assist CAOs with heavier case workloads since 2014. OIM will also call upon our eleven processing centers to assist with processing work during this time.”
The Department of Human Services tells us that updated data will be available next week and if you’d like to complete a renewal or report a change without going to a County Assistance Office, visit dhs.pa.gov/COMPASS.