Senator Bob Casey, D‑Scranton, and Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary, Dr. Val Arkoosh, have joined hands to launch a groundbreaking initiative aimed at securing health coverage for the state’s residents. With about 20% of the population relying on the state’s Medical Assistance Program, this collaborative effort comes as a crucial step to ensure that citizens do not lose their healthcare coverage due to changing circumstances.
The initiative, launched after the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, requires eligible residents to register and update their information to receive timely notifications from the DHS. Sen. Bob Casey, alongside state officials and healthcare representatives, emphasized the importance of this initiative during an informational panel held at the River Valley Health and Dental Center.
“It’s critical that we get this word out…we’ve got to keep repeating the message about getting accurate, timely contact information and into the state so that Secretary Arkoosh and her team can continue to do that outreach,” Sen. Casey said.
Notably, unlike the conventional approach of sending out packets annually, the DHS has adopted a more personalized approach. Renewal packets are now sent out to individuals based on their specific renewal dates, ensuring a more streamlined process. However, failure to respond to these packets may lead to inadvertent removal from the Medicaid program, even if the individuals remain technically eligible.
“The important thing is that if we don’t hear back from them, we will need to remove them from the Medicaid program, even if they’re technically still eligible. If we don’t know they’re eligible then we will have to remove them from the program.” Dr. Arkoosh said.
The uniqueness of this initiative lies in its proactive approach towards those found ineligible for Medicaid due to income guidelines. Rather than leaving them adrift without coverage, the initiative enables these individuals to be seamlessly enrolled in qualified health plans through Pennie, the state’s healthcare marketplace. This process involves creating an account on their behalf, allowing them to explore affordable commercial policies that suit their needs.
Dr. Arkoosh, in support of the initiative, also highlighted the importance of educating citizens about the availability of cost-effective commercial policies through Pennie.
“We’re trying to help educate people that these very substantial, really good commercial policies are available to them at very low cost if they’re no longer eligible for Medicaid,” Arkoosh said and Casey echoed Arkoosh’s statement.
This strategy not only safeguards health coverage for eligible individuals but also dispels the notion that Medicaid is the only option for those who fall just above the income threshold.
Further emphasizing the importance of Medicaid Senator Casey said, “We’re Americans. We value these Americans, and anyone who gets in our way of valuing those people is going to lose that fight. We’re gonna value those Americans and support this program no matter what,” Casey said.
The success of this initiative can already be seen in Pennsylvania’s impressive rate of closed cases. Ranking third lowest in cases closed due to non-response, the state aims to further improve these numbers by raising awareness within the community.
“We want to be the lowest, but we’re the third lowest,” Arkoosh said.
As this collaborative effort gains momentum, citizens are urged to update their contact information promptly to receive renewal packets and secure their health coverage.
“It’s important to just keep your contact information up-to-date,” said Angelo.