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Hundreds of thousands in Pa. could lose Medicaid

Plus, it's Special Election Day in Allegheny County.


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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Medicaid moment, the specials, head counts, about-face, unconstitutional law, evacuations urged, and on strike at the State of the Union. 

Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians could lose their free health insurance in the coming year, and many may not even know it. 

The AP reports that the end of a federal, pandemic-era prohibition against kicking people off Medicaid means eligibility rules will again be enforced for more than 3.6 million Pennsylvanians on the program

Enrollees will need to reapply for the first time in years, and efforts to notify them are underway, but advocates worry many will be missed.

"It's not the losing of it, but it's the losing of it by people who are still eligible and don't know where to go," said Amy Lowenstein, a lawyer and director of policy for the nonprofit Pennsylvania Health Law Project.

THE CONTEXT: The Urban Institute think tank estimates that 494,000 people in Pennsylvania will lose Medicaid coverage by June 2024, though many will be eligible for subsidized Affordable Care Act plans.

The Inquirer (paywall) offers the following tips:

  • Pennsylvania expects to take at least a year clearing the backlog of renewals, meaning benefits won't disappear overnight.
  • Update your contact information with the Medicaid program.
  • Watch for notices sent by mail, phone, text, and email with information  about your renewal deadline. You can also get that info by calling the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (1-866-550-4355).
  • Pennsylvania residents can also use an online COMPASS account to check the status of their Medicaid coverage.
  • About 30 days before your coverage expires, you'll receive a renewal packet in the mail — assuming your current address is on file. 
  • There will be a special enrollment period through Pennsylvania's Affordable Care Act marketplace for people who lose Medicaid coverage.
  • And children no longer eligible for Medicaid will be eligible for Pennsylvania's Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) regardless of income, per WESA.

"Mrs. Obama does not get involved in Democratic primaries and is not supporting this candidate."

—Eric Schultz, a senior adviser to Michelle Obama, saying ads promoting Jeff Brown for Philadelphia mayor imply an endorsement Obama never made
» HOW SPECIAL ELECTIONS WORK: Join us Thursday, Feb. 9 from 6-7 p.m. on Zoom for a free panel on the results of the Feb. 7 special elections, how they work, and why they matter. This event is the first in our "How Harrisburg Works" series. Register here and submit your questions to 
Ridley Creek in Delaware County, via Don N. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
An icy creek in the woods.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.ELECTION DAY: It's Election Day in Allegheny County, with voters set to decide three consequential special elections that could determine control of the state House. WESA has guides to voting and the candidates in state House Districts 32, 34, and 35.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.CRISIS CENSUS: WaPo (paywall) went to Carlisle to see what a nationwide count of unhoused people looked like in Cumberland County. One advocate told the outlet: "We're like an iceberg. You might see a few, and there's more hiding than you know." 

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.PARTY POWER: The Inquirer (paywall) reports the Pennsylvania GOP is sticking with its current leadership despite internal backlash over bruising midterm losses. One leader, Chair Lawrence Tabas, is urging an about-face on mail voting, which the GOP has vilified.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.2A RULING: A federal law barring cannabis users and medical marijuana patients in Pennsylvania from possessing firearms is unconstitutional, a federal judge has ruled, citing last year's expansion of gun rights by the U.S. Supreme Court. Appeals of the ruling are possible.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.EVACUATION PLEA: Gov. Josh Shapiro urged Pennsylvania residents near the site of a burning train derailment in Ohio, just over the state line, to evacuate Monday as officials prepared to release toxic chemicals from the train to lower the risks of an explosion.

EARTHQUAKE: A 3.8-magnitude earthquake rattled Buffalo, NY early Monday, marking the region's strongest tremor in decades. Pennsylvania's largest-ever earthquake was a 5.2 on the Richter scale and had an epicenter near Jamestown. It was recorded in 1998.

SPEECH NIGHT: U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio (D., Pa.) will be joined by striking Pittsburgh Post-Gazette mailer James "Hutchie" VanLandingham at tonight's State of the Union address. U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D., Pa.) will be joined by Dennis Horton, a man freed after 28 years in prison.

HOUSE FIRE: No one was hurt in a fire at a vacation home on Lake Ariel belonging to U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) and his family. Officials say the blaze, which caused extensive damage, was electrical in nature. The house originally belonged to Casey's father, former Gov. Bob Casey Sr. 

HAND-CARVED: K. Leroy Irvis was Pennsylvania's first and so far only Black state House speaker, but he was also a sculptor, wood carver, and artist. PA House Archives on Instagram shared this carving Irvis made for Clancy Myer, the longtime and now-retired state House parliamentarian.

BOOK TALK: The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Evicted, Matthew Desmond, will be at Harrisburg's Midtown Scholar Bookstore next month to discuss his latest — Poverty, By America — with state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D., Philadelphia). If you can't make it, you can watch live here.

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Yesterday's answer: Despotic

Congrats to our daily winners: Eddy Z., Michelle T., Vicki U., Vicki K., Daniel M., Susan D., Kimberly D., Starr B., Barbara F., Susan N.-Z., Bruce B., Jon W., Ted W., Karen W., Keith W., Joel S., Jane R., John F., Chuck M., John B., Craig W., Don H., Gary C., Stanley J., Elizabeth W., Rick L., Steve D., Kathee M., Christopher H., David W., John P., Daniel S., Kathy S., Dennis M., James B., Dianne K., Myles M., Bill S., John A., Kim C., Wendy A., Elaine C., Nancy S., and Ada M.
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