On January 6, 2021, PA Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller reminded Pennsylvanians that safety-net programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid (MA) are available to individuals and families who are struggling to afford food or access health care. Secretary Miller also discussed recent SNAP changes that will help individuals and families amidst the continuing public health crisis and heightened unemployment.
Enrollment statewide for Medicaid has increased by 300,076 people since February 2020, for a total enrollment of 3,131,639 people in November 2020, which is a 10.6% increase.
In addition, Pennsylvanians who have lost health coverage or are currently uninsured and need coverage for themselves or their children may qualify for coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Medicaid and CHIP provide coverage for routine and emergency health services, tests and screenings, and prescriptions, and COVID-19 testing and treatment are covered by Medicaid and CHIP. Medicaid and CHIP enroll individuals throughout the year and do not have a limited or special enrollment time, so people needing health coverage can apply for these programs at any time. There are income limits for Medicaid, but all children qualify for comprehensive health, vision, and dental coverage through CHIP regardless of their parents’ income. Children who are not income eligible for Medicaid are automatically referred to CHIP for coverage.
Enrollment for SNAP statewide has increased by 96,549 people since February 2020, for a total enrollment of about 1,834,008 in November 2020, which is a 5.6% increase.
SNAP helps more than 1.8 million Pennsylvanians purchase fresh food and groceries, helping families with limited or strained resources be able to keep food on the table while meeting other bills and needs. Inadequate food and chronic nutrient deficiencies have profound effects on a person’s life and health, including increased risks for chronic diseases, higher chances of hospitalization, poorer overall health, and increased health care costs. As the nation faces the COVID-19 pandemic, access to essential needs like food is more important than ever to help keep vulnerable populations healthy and mitigate co-occurring health risks. Congress has temporarily increased the SNAP maximum benefit allotment by 15% through the recently-signed federal government funding bill. This change affects every SNAP recipient in the commonwealth and is effective from January 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021. More information, including the new SNAP maximum monthly allotment, can be viewed by clicking here.