Wednesday, March 08, 2023
Based on current COVID-19 trends, both the federal and state Public Health Emergency for the pandemic is set to expire on May 11, 2023. These emergency declarations have been in place since early 2020 and allowed the government flexibility to modify and even waive certain requirements in a range of areas, including Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance.
What do these changes mean for you and what can you do to prepare? Here is a summary of the major changes that might affect your healthcare and other services.
The end of the emergency declaration means changes are coming to Medicaid. Congress made changes to Medicaid to help people and states deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. One change gave states extra federal funding to keep customers enrolled, even if they might no longer be eligible. This “continuous coverage” made sure customers would not lose coverage during the pandemic.
As a result of continuous coverage, Medicaid customers have not been asked to update their information for three years. As a result of Congress ending the continuous coverage, Illinois will have 12 months to conduct eligibility redeterminations for Medicaid customers. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) will send redetermination letters to Medicaid recipients.
Here’s what you need to do now:
- Update your information – Click Manage My Case at abe.illinois.gov
- Verify your mailing address under “Contact Us”
- Find your redetermination date in your “Benefit Details”
- Watch your mail
- Complete your renewal right away
- Connect to coverage if you are no longer eligible for Medicaid. Go through the official Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace for Illinois, GetCoveredIllinois.gov
For help with your Medicaid renewal, call 1-800-843-6154.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP):
Additionally, temporary SNAP emergency allotments were made to help low-income individuals and families deal with the hardships of the pandemic. With the end of the emergency declaration, as of March 2023, all SNAP households’ benefits will return to normal levels.
How will my benefits change when emergency allotments end?
Emergency allotments provided all SNAP households with an additional $95 in benefits. When emergency allotments end, you will return to your normal SNAP benefit amount.
Here’s what you need to do now:
- Visit abe.illinois.gov or call the IDHS Helpline at 1-800-843-6154
- Update your information including address, housing costs, or income to receive the maximum benefits for which you are eligible
- Prepare accordingly for the decrease in benefits
All SNAP households are encouraged to visit their local food pantry. To find a food pantry across Illinois, visit go.illinois.edu/findfood.
Telehealth Changes Delayed:
Prior to COVID-19, telehealth accounted for less than 1% of outpatient care, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Telehealth services have since surged, at their peak accounting for 40% of outpatient visits for mental health and substance use.
Among the major changes to Medicare coverage of telehealth during the emergency:
- Medicare beneficiaries in any geographic area can receive telehealth services
- Telehealth visits can be delivered via smartphone
- More Medicare-covered services can be provided via telehealth
What will happen to telehealth now?
Telehealth options are not going away yet. Congress extended many of the telehealth flexibilities authorized during the COVID-19 public health emergency through December 31, 2024.
What Will NOT be Affected:
There are significant flexibilities and actions that will not be affected as we transition out of the emergency provisions including:
- COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be widely available to anyone who needs them
- COVID-19 treatments, such as Paxlovid and Lagevrio, will generally not be affected
- Major telehealth flexibilities will continue to exist for those participating in Medicare or Medicaid