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May 21 Health Update & Save the Date for HCWG May 27

May 21, 2020 MLRI’s MassHealth and Health Connector Update & Save the Date for May 27 at 3


1. The COVID-19 "Special Enrollment Period" for private insurance has been extended to June 23, 2020: The SEP was slated to end on May 25, but today the Health Connector released an Administrative Bulletin extending the deadline for another month.


Extended Enrollment Period through June 23

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, an extended enrollment period is available through June 23, 2020 for qualified Massachusetts residents who are uninsured. If you apply coverage under this special enrollment, the deadlines to complete enrollment remains as follows:

Coverage Start Date

Enrollment Deadline

June 1

May 23

July 1

June 23

Please note that if you are eligible to enroll due to normal special enrollment period rules, you can select the one that applies when you complete your application.

If you or family members are eligible for MassHealth programs, you can apply any time of the year. Your coverage may start sooner than the 1st of the month. 


2. The end of the MassHealth Student Health Plan Premium Assistance Program

On May 19, 2020, MassHealth announced that it was moving ahead with retiring the Student Health Plan Premium Assistance program at the end of the 2019-20 school term.


This will affect about 28,000 MassHealth members for whom MassHealth had purchased coverage from their college or university Student Health Plan for the 2019-20 school term. Depending on the school, the 2019-20 Student Health Plans end in July, August or September. 


The end of this program does not mean the end of MassHealth for current and former college students. It does mean that at the end of the school term, MassHealth will become their primary coverage. It also means if students return to school full-time in 2020-21, they will need to ask for a waiver in order to avoid being enrolled in the Student Health Plan and charged the added cost. If the COVID-19 emergency has ended by July-Sept, some students who were only on MassHealth thanks to the Student Health Plan or COVID-19 protection may have to update their eligibility to see if they will remain eligible. 


More detailed information about this change is on the website of University Health Plans including a copy of a letter MassHealth sent to students in April, a website where students can confirm the end date of their school year and FAQs


However, this change was in the works pre-COVID and none of the information addresses the COVID-19 moratorium --we are following up with MassHealth on this & some other implementation issues.  Please let us know if you hear from students who received the April notice and are asking you about it. 


3. Closing the SNAP GAP

Food & nutrition advocates including our esteemed MLRI colleagues have continued their tireless efforts to close the SNAP Gap to help everyone on MassHealth programs who qualify to have the added benefit of SNAP. 


The MassHealth Senior Application now includes an added SNAP page that initiates an application for SNAP benefits from DTA. 


And this is the latest progress that our colleagues sent out to their SNAP listserv yesterday--


SNAP Gap Victory - in the House IT Bond Bill!

Today, May 20th, the Massachusetts House approved legislation that includes $5M funding directing the Baker Administration to allow MassHealth and Medicare Savings Program applicants and recipients the option to apply for SNAP benefits at the same time. The language was included in the “IT Bond Bill” H.4708.

This is HUGE!  As more individuals and families become unemployed, lose private health insurance, they will need both health care and nutrition benefits.  Representative Jay Livingstone spearheaded this effort, filing an amendment on Friday that included funding for the SNAP Gap, as well as language directing the state to provide mobile POS devices to retailers willing to offer curbside pick-up and pay options.  Rep Livingstone had 49 co-sponsors on his amendment. THANK YOU all for your rapid response to get co-sponsors - it worked!



4. Save the Date for the next Health Care Working Group Zoom Meeting next Wednesday, May 27 at 3 pm


And check out our Table Summarizing COVID-19 related changes in MassHealth, the Health Connector and the Health Safety Net