All Texans, regardless of whether they were born here or got here as fast as they could, deserve to have access to health and food. From Anderson County to Zavala County, we all need a little bit of help sometimes. Since early in the pandemic, there have been some federal policies and flexibilities in place that made it easier for families to stay healthy and fed during uncertain times.
Pandemic-era help delinked from the Public Health Emergency (PHE)
Since 2020, Texans have been able to keep their Medicaid during the COVID Public Health Emergency (PHE) period. This has helped kids keep seeing their doctors and moms continue to have access to health services without having to redo paperwork. During the same time, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) families have been receiving an extra boost to their monthly food benefits.
At the end of 2022, Congress passed a new funding bill with some big changes to Texas SNAP and Medicaid. The last of the SNAP boost ended in February, and starting in March 2023, all SNAP households will see a drop in their monthly benefits.
The bill also delinks the Medicaid continuous coverage from the PHE and ends continuous coverage in Medicaid on March 31, 2023. People may start getting disenrolled from Medicaid as early as April 1, 2023.
Rechecking Medicaid Eligibility in Texas
Starting in April, Texas HHSC will take on the big task of rechecking eligibility for every Medicaid member within 12 months — all 5.9 million Texans on the program. About half — 2.7 million Texans who have had their coverage extended during the PHE— will be frontloaded with their renewal packets sent in April, May, and June. The huge lift is also coming at a time when there have been big strains at HHSC with major delays to new Medicaid and SNAP applications, because of critical workforce challenges. Over the last year, newly pregnant women and newly eligible children have been waiting longer than the federally required 45 days maximum for their applications to go through.
Many kids — particularly Black and Latino children — are at risk of losing coverage during the process, even though they may still be eligible for Medicaid. This is due to administrative hurdles they must overcome to maintain their coverage. Texans who are immigrants and their families may be at greater risk of coverage loss because of language barriers and immigration status concerns.
Families should know enrolling and re-enrolling in Medicaid does not harm a family member’s chances of becoming a U.S. Citizen or cause risk of deportation.
What Medicaid members will see
Beginning in early April 1, 2023, members will start to receive renewal packets or requests for information with 30 days to respond. These notices will be mailed in a yellow envelope that says “Action Required” in red. People no longer eligible and people who do not complete every step of the renewal process will be disenrolled from Medicaid.
- To prepare, Texans with Medicaid should:
- Sign up for an account at YourTexasBenefits.com or on the Your Texas Benefits mobile app.
- Report any changes to contact information to ensure any notices are received.
- Return renewal packets or requests for information as soon as possible. Information from HHSC is coming in yellow envelopes.
- Find Local Help to get through the renewal process.
Other Coverage Options
People should also know even if they’re no longer eligible for Medicaid, there may be other affordable health coverage options.
- The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is available for eligible children in families who saw an increase in their income.
- Low-cost, high-quality insurance is available on HealthCare.Gov for eligible adults and children. Congress has reduced the price of insurance on HealthCare.Gov, with four out of five shoppers now qualifying for health insurance for less than $10 per month. HealthCare.Gov will have additional flexibility for Marketplace-eligible consumers losing Medicaid or CHIP to enroll in Marketplace coverage through July 2024. They can enroll in HealthCare.Gov through a new Special Enrollment Period (SEP), referred to as the “Unwinding SEP” up to 60 days before losing Medicaid/CHIP or after losing coverage.
- Healthy Texas Women provides well-woman exams and family planning services for eligible women between the ages of 18-44 who are not pregnant. (Additional services are available through Healthy Texas Women Plus during the first year after pregnancy.)
Find Local Help
Medicaid members don’t have to go through this alone — community organizations are standing by offering free assistance renewing health coverage or exploring new options.
- Use the #SickOfItTX Get Help tool to see what options are available. This takes only a couple of minutes.
- Visit the state’s Community Partner program website to find a local group.
- If you’re no longer eligible for Medicaid, find local help for health insurance that may be available.
- HHSC’s Ambassador Toolkit includes great information available in English and Spanish for both Medicaid and SNAP.
Seguro Texas’ toolkit includes outreach resources also available in English and Spanish.