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Halloween Health Update

Oct 27 Health Care Working Group. Thanks to everyone who was able to join us for the HCWG meeting on Oct 27. Attached are the materials from our three excellent guest presenters: Erin McCrady, Jen Obadia and Pat Baker who talked about the growing Food is Medicine movement, Flex Funding available to people enrolled in MassHealth ACOs for nutrition services, and the SNAP check box now on MassHealth paper and HIX application and renewal forms.

 

The SNAP check box is generating over 5,000 applications a month since it was added to the online HIX application in July. Attached are  SNAP fact sheets from DTA with important information for CACs to share with individuals who check the box about what to expect next: SNAP applicants may get an EBT card before they have been found eligible for SNAP, will need to talk to a DTA representative and send in proofs.

 

Save the date: Next HCWG meeting Wed. Dec 7, 2022 3-4:30.

 

 

Alert to look out for cases where people have been terminated from MassHealth because they are no longer living with the head of household. We are asking anyone who has seen a  case like this to be in touch with Vicky (vpulos@mlri.org) or Kate (ksymmonds@mlri.org)

 

 

We didn’t have time to go over some of the developments since our last meeting, that information is set out below:

 

·       Public Health Emergency (PHE) extended. In mid Oct, 2022, Secretary Becerra extended the PHE for another 90 days to mid Jan, 2022. Because he promised the states 60 days advance notice of the end of the PHE we will know by Nov 12 whether there will be another extension or whether the PHE will end in January.

 

·       The unwinding after the PHE ends. Medicaid continuous coverage protection extends until the last day of the month that the PHE ends. The process of returning to normal is being called the “unwinding.” MassHealth will be preparing a written unwinding plan until then we don’t expect to see anything in writing, but below are a few highlights of what MassHealth has shown us about their unwinding plans as of mid-October 2022.

 

  • Unwinding timing: If the PHE ends in January, MassHealth told us that no earlier than Feb 1, they will start sending out renewal forms that may lead to a termination. (States had the option to start terminations as soon as the PHE ended so long as they had sent a renewal in the prior one or two months, but MassHealth told us they are not electing that option). Post PHE renewals will be spread out over 12 months from the end of the PHE starting with the oldest cases first.
  • Response deadlines for the unwinding: If MassHealth can’t renew eligibility based on data matching alone, it will send a renewal form to be returned in 45 days. MassHealth will be aligning the following deadlines to give the elderly the same longer timelines now available to those under 65: 90 days to return requested proof of information and, for those terminated for not returning a renewal form, 90 days to return the form and be reinstated back to the date of termination if still eligible.

 

·       Other changes on the horizon in time for the unwinding

o   Opening of a MEC in Worcester: MassHealth will be establishing a new MassHealth Enrollment Center (MEC) in Worcester to be staffed by about 20 people. Up to now, people in Central Mass had to travel to Springfield to get in-person help at a MEC. It will be in the same location as the Worcester DTA office. We don’t yet know when it will be open to the public, but it will be in time for the unwinding.

 

·       Don’t forget new procedures already in place

 

o   Scheduling an appointment for a telephone or video call with the MassHealth Enrollment Center (MEC)

 

o   Online submission of renewal forms for the elderly
 

For some seniors who could not be auto-renewed, they can now submit the renewal form electronically- this went live Aug 26. The renewal notice will come with a unique e-submission number which the member must enter online to submit electronically. The site leads to a fillable PDF of the senior renewal form. Once completed, the form can be e-signed and submitted electronically. No additional documents can be uploaded at this time. Members can go back to the webpage to confirm that their form has been received and when it has been processed.

 

·       Procedures still in place now that may not be around for the unwinding

Self-attestation to prove most eligibility factors is still in effect,but will probably not continue after the PHE ends. During the PHE, people can use self-attestation to prove the amount of income and assets and whether they have a disability For more information on self-attestation, See El. Ops Memo 22-10 (August 2022) Updated MH Response to COVID and MLRI’s  Table of COVID-19 Changes.

·       CMS Frequently Asked Questions on the Unwinding

 

CMS has put out a wealth of material about the unwinding including this Oct 20 slide deck on Ex Parte Renewals and a set of FAQs that summarize a lot of unwinding policies in an easy-to-read format.  These FAQs are also the first place we’ve seen anything in writing confirming that the IRS Economic Incentive Payments/Recovery Rebates which CMS initially said could be treated as an asset 12 months after receipt, can NEVER be treated as an asset nor can other pandemic related assistance disregarded under the SSI rules that apply to MassHealth members subject to an asset test.

o   Q19: Is pandemic-related financial assistance retained by an individual considered a countable resource in determining an individual’s financial eligibility?

A: For most beneficiaries, the answer is “No.” …. A complete list of the types of assistance that are permanently disregarded from income and resources under SSI’s disaster assistance policy can be found in Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) emergency memo SSA EM-20014 REV 5.….