CDF-Texas is committed to the health and well-being of families, especially in uncertain and unprecedented times like these.
The recent Coronavirus pandemic has upended our daily lives and has caused much anxiety throughout the country. In response, state and federal governments and agencies have made changes to Medicaid and CHIP rules regarding COVID-19-related care, as well as programs like SNAP, unemployment, and paid sick leave. Below are some resources and information that might be useful for you and your family.
For those Enrolled in Medicaid:
- COVID-19 testing and treatment are covered at no cost.
- If you are due to renew your Medicaid benefits during this public health emergency (any time after March 18th), you will not need to do so until the emergency is over. Disenrollment has been suspended and you will not be dropped from coverage.
- If you find you or your children have been dropped from Medicaid, call the Health and Human Services Office of the Ombudsman: 877-787-8999 or visit their website to complete an online form.
For Pregnant Women on Medicaid:
No pregnant women will be disenrolled from Medicaid. If you have had a child during this time, Medicaid coverage will continue past the original two months until the public health emergency has ended.
For Children Enrolled in CHIP:
- Testing for COVID-19 is covered at no cost.
- Co-payments for office visits and telehealth services have also been waived.
- Kids in CHIP whose coverage was set to end in April or May 2020, will automatically have their CHIP insurance extended through July or August 2020, respectively. No action or paperwork needed by the family.
For those with Private Insurance:
Most private insurance plans will cover COVID-19 testing and any associated office visits with no out-of-pocket costs (deductibles, copays, and coinsurance). However bare-bones and short-term insurance plans are not required to do so. Be sure to check with your insurance provider to see what services are covered. For a list of how your insurance company is responding to COVID-19 visit Texas Health Insurer Actions.
For those who are Uninsured:
Texas has accepted federal funding to cover the cost of Coronavirus testing for the uninsured. To get more information call 2-1-1. No matter where you live in Texas, you can call 2-1-1 or (877) 541-7905 and select option 6 for more information about COVID-19 social services, including testing, unemployment benefits, community clinics and more resources. The 2-1-1 Texas hotline can be used 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is a free service. More information is available here. Avoid going to freestanding Emergency Rooms to get COVID-19 testing. You could be charged for the COVID-19 testing even if you have insurance.
Texas has recently accepted federal funding to cover the cost of Coronavirus testing for the uninsured but Texas and Congress have yet to take action on ensuring no-cost treatment for uninsured Texans. The best way to ensure free testing and treatment for 1.5 million uninsured Texans is to expand Medicaid. Click here to write a letter to Governor Abbott asking him to take action now.
For more information regarding Health Insurance/Medicaid/CHIP:
- Private Health Insurance & COVID-19: CPPP
- COVID-19 Changes to Medicaid and CHIP Services
- COVID-19 SNAP, TANF, Medicaid FAQs
For those using SNAP Benefits:
- You will not need to renew SNAP benefits during this public health emergency. SNAP benefits due for renewal in March, April, or May 2020 will be extended through September, October, and November 2020, respectively.
- You will see an increase in the amount of allotted benefits for your household to be used in the months of April and May. If you are already using the maximum benefits for your household size, you will not receive this increase. You can check your SNAP balance by calling 800-777-7328, checking your last receipt or your receipt after buying something, or asking the store to check your balance if they allow it.
- If you are unemployed, you will be able to continue using SNAP benefits, as SNAP work requirements have been suspended. Additionally, you may self-report your income if providing pay stubs or contacting your former employer is not possible.
For more information regarding your SNAP Benefits:
- COVID-19 SNAP, TANF, Medicaid FAQs
- SNAP & COVID-19: CPPP
- Find Your Local Food Bank
- Meals For Kids
- For help filling out a SNAP application
For those who have lost access to free and reduced meal prices for their children:
P-EBT is a one-time benefit for families that have lost access to free or reduced meal prices. Children between the ages of 5 and 18 who received SNAP benefits for the month of March 2020 and children up to the age of 21 who qualified for free or reduced meal prices in a Texas school during the 2019-2020 school year are eligible for the P-EBT benefit.
Three things to keep in mind:
- Your immigration status does not affect your eligibility for P-EBT. All children with free or reduced meal prices qualify for P-EBT. Applications do not require Social Security numbers.
- Families with children between the ages of 5 and 18 who already receive SNAP benefits do not need to apply. The funds will have already been deposited in the family’s Lone Star card account.
- Those with children enrolled in free or reduced meal programs will receive an application through their children’s school via email or mail. The online application will be open from the first week in June until the new extended deadline of July 31, 2020.
- Families with children under the age of 5 and between the ages of 19 and 21 will need to apply for P-EBT through the online application they receive from their children’s school.
For more information regarding P-EBT Benefits:
For those who are Unemployed:
- Starting July 6th, the State of Texas will reinstate the work search requirement for residents to qualify for unemployment benefits. This will require Texans filing for jobless benefits to prove their job searches starting two weeks after this date when they request benefits payments.
- Jobless benefit applicants will be required to search for three jobs during their benefits period.
- Furloughed employees with definite return-to-work date within 12 weeks of the layoff are exempt from this work search requirement.
- If you are self-employed, a gig worker, a contractor, or an Uber drive, you now qualify for unemployment.
- If you have lost health coverage through your employer, you are eligible for a special enrollment period (SEP) for 60 days. Visit healthcare.gov to find ACA Marketplace plans.
- If you file for unemployment and qualify, you will be eligible to receive up to $512 a week for 39 weeks, depending on your hourly rate while employed. You will also receive an additional $600 per week through the end of July 2020.
For more information on Unemployment:
For those looking to receive paid sick leave:
Who qualifies for the paid leave program?
If you have worked at least 30 days at an employer with fewer than 500 employees, you qualify for this program. State and local government employees also qualify, however, some federal workers may not be eligible. Check here for more information on federal employee eligibility. Healthcare professionals and emergency responders do not qualify and it is up to their employer whether they can access paid leave.
There are two types of paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Paid Family Leave.
If you are an eligible employee, you can receive emergency paid sick leave for the following reasons:
- You are diagnosed with COVID-19 or you are experiencing symptoms of the virus.
- You are quarantined (including self-imposed quarantine), at the instruction of a healthcare provider, employer, or government official, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- You are caring for another person who has COVID-19 or who is under quarantine related to COVID-19.
- You are caring for a child or other individual who is unable to care for themselves due to COVID-19-related closings of their school, childcare facility, or other care programs.
You can qualify for emergency paid family leave if:
- You must provide care for your child if their usual place of care (school, child care center, paid care provider, etc.) is closed or unavailable and you are unable to work or telework.
What benefits can you qualify for:
Under emergency paid sick leave, you may take up to two full work weeks (80 hours or 10 days) off as a fulltime employee or the average number of hours worked over two weeks as a part-time employee.
- You will receive your regular rate of pay up to $511/day if you are sick or quarantined. If your rate of pay is below minimum wage, you will receive at least minimum wage. This amount is capped at $5110.
- You will receive ⅔ of your regular pay up to $200/day if you are caring for someone who is sick or quarantined, or for a child whose place of care was closed due to COVID-19. If your rate of pay is below minimum wage, you will receive at least ⅔ of the minimum wage.
Under emergency paid family leave, you may take up to 10 weeks off, in addition to the two weeks of paid sick leave.
- You will receive 2/3 of your normal rate for the hours you would have been scheduled to work, up to $200/day and $10,000 total.
What about my health insurance? Can I keep my job?
You will be able to keep your health insurance if you are enrolled in insurance through your employer. Additionally, your employer may not terminate your employment while you take paid leave. However, there are no protections against any layoffs or furloughs that would have occurred anyway.
Do I need to apply for paid leave?
You will not need to apply for paid leave. Your paycheck will come from your employer.
For more information on paid sick leave:
Though changes like these will help many families, there is more to be done.
These are the top three actions state and federal leaders need to take and what you can do to help:
- The state needs to expand Medicaid to help 1.5 million uninsured Texans obtain healthcare coverage. Many people cannot afford COVID-19 treatment and Medicaid expansion can help provide healthcare and financial stability for over 1 million Texans during this unprecedented time. Please take a minute to write a letter to the Governor to ask for Medicaid expansion.
- The federal administration must re-open the Health Insurance Marketplace to help connect 2.8 million uninsured Texans with coverage. Millions of hardworking Texans are losing their jobs amidst the pandemic, and a large number of them will be without health insurance and wages. The current administration has the responsibility to make affordable health coverage accessible during this public health crisis. Send a letter to your Senators and Representatives in Congress urging them to do so today: Reopen the ACA Marketplace
- The federal administration should allow Texas to waive CHIP cost-sharing. Children are one of our most vulnerable populations and costs for their COVID-19 care need to be covered.
Families are encouraged to check this blog regularly for updates.