What is the Public Health Emergency?
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on many temporary changes to policies and programs at the state and national levels in order to help as many families as possible through these unprecedented times. Many of these changes were brought on by the establishment of a public health emergency, or PHE, in February of 2020. Upon the end of this public health emergency, many programs will reinstate the rules in place prior to the PHE. There are a few crucial things families utilizing Medicaid should be aware of as we approach the potential end of the public health emergency.
When does the PHE end?
It is anticipated that the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration will be lifted by the end of 2022. The PHE has currently been extended to October 13, 2022, but there is no guarantee that it will be extended beyond this date. Currently, states are required to keep all individuals enrolled in Medicaid throughout the PHE. This halted the redetermination process completely. When the PHE ends, every state will have to redetermine financial eligibility for all of their Medicaid recipients. It is anticipated that 15 million current Medicaid recipients nationwide will lose their eligibility for Medicaid. Every state, including Colorado, will have a large backlog of Medicaid paperwork that needs to be processed. This very large amount of work has the potential to cause problems and delays for people who utilize Medicaid for their services. Because of this, it is important that families prepare for these changes to help avoid loss or delay of services upon redetermination.
How can I prepare?
The Dept. of Health and Human Services has been providing Medicaid agencies across the country with ideas on how to prepare for the end of the PHE and to restart redeterminations of Medicaid eligibility. The information below is direct from Colorado’s Medicaid agency, describing key action items that you may take in preparation for this change.
These redetermination packets are time sensitive, and you must return all the requested information by the deadline date in the cover letter. This is important because no Medicaid recipient has completed the redetermination process since March 2020. We want to stress the importance of completing your paperwork on time to ensure that the redetermination process occurs as smoothly as possible. If you are denied benefits and you believe the determination was wrong, you must appeal in the timeline defined in the denial letter.
To be prepared, we encourage all PASCO caregivers to take the following steps:
- Update your contact information: If you have Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid program) or Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) and you’ve moved within the last 3 years, make sure you can get important information about your health coverage.
- Respond to any Medicaid letters to see if you still qualify for health coverage. Those letters go to your address or email, so it is important that your contact information is up to date.
Updating your address, phone number, and email is quick and easy. You can update your information in one of these ways:
- Visit Colorado.gov/PEAK. If you don’t have a PEAK account, you can create one at Colorado.gov/PEAK.
- Use the Health First Colorado app on your phone. This free app is for Health First Colorado and CHP+ members. Download it for free in the Google Play or Apple App stores.
- CHP+ members can call 800-359-1991 (State Relay: 711). Help is available in multiple languages.
- Contact your County Department of Human Services or Social Services to change your contact information. You can find your County office at: https://cdhs.colorado.gov/our-partners/counties/contact-your-county-human-services-department
- Contact PASCO if you need assistance with this process.