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Medicaid coverage could end for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians under federal changes

This snapshot from's October 2022 Medicaid and CHIP enrollment data highlights shows 3.6 million Pennsylvanians receiving coverage.
This snapshot from's October 2022 Medicaid and CHIP enrollment data highlights shows 3.6 million Pennsylvanians receiving coverage.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, if you received health care coverage through Medicaid or CHIP — the Children’s Health Insurance Program — you did not have to re-enroll every year and could keep your coverage even if you no longer met the qualifications. But that’s changing starting on April 1, and it means hundreds of thousands of people will no longer qualify or will qualify, but need to do the required paperwork.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services emphasized that coverage will not automatically end on April 1, and recipients will have a chance to renew their coverage.

But Cheryl White, executive director of Centre Volunteers in Medicine, is concerned about the impact on people who had been covered and organizations like hers.

“There will be an increase in uninsured people trying to access care from free clinics that don’t receive state and federal funding," White said.

The nonprofit provides medical and dental care to people in Centre County who are low-income and uninsured. White noted that people whose income has stayed the same or shrunk will still qualify for Medicaid — but they need to re-enroll.

“I worry about individuals who, because they’re low income and they’re vulnerable, they have so much on their plates. And they just see this as a red tape, one more thing they have to deal with," she said. "Some of them just lack the wherewithal of how to get through it or they don’t have a computer to get on the website and get the information that they need.”

Others who got raises or new jobs may make too much to qualify. CVIM has case managers who can help someone navigate Pennie, the state’s dental and health insurance marketplace. But White said, not everyone will be able to afford coverage.

The change comes under the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. Pennsylvania has to begin checking eligibility again.

A state Department of Human Services spokesman said that about 593,000 individuals have been maintained in Medicaid despite not meeting eligibility criteria as of their last completed renewal. Another approximately 577,000 individuals, some of whom were already found not to be meeting eligibility criteria, have not completed the renewal process.

The spokesman said the department has an aggressive effort to let Pennsylvanians know about their options and deadlines. He said when a person is not eligible for Medicaid coverage, the department provides referrals to other options, like CHIP and Pennie.

Anne Danahy has been a reporter at WPSU since fall 2017. Before crossing over to radio, she was a reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, and she worked in communications at Penn State. She is married with cats.