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Medical Assistance & the Federal Public Health Emergency

Under the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) declaration, Pennsylvania was required to continue Medical Assistance (MA) coverage for most people unless they:

  • moved out-of-state,
  • passed away, or 
  • asked to end their Medical Assistance (MA).

When the federal PHEThe Public Health Emergency (PHE) is a federal declaration that began in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the PHE, states must maintain the eligibility of most people receiving MA even when they were found to be ineligible.

visit our PHE Glossary...
 ends, the Department of Human Services (DHS) must reach out to see if people are still eligibleIn this case, eligible means that a person meets the requirements to receive MA or CHIP coverage. If a person is ineligible, it means that they do not meet the requirements for MA or CHIP coverage and we may then send information to Pennie to get health coverage through a Qualified Health Plan (QHP).

visit our PHE Glossary...
for Medical Assistance (MA). 

MA recipients will have to complete a renewal to maintain their MA coverage as long as they are eligible.

DHS and our partners at Pennie® (Pennsylvania's official health and dental insurance marketplace) are working hard to make sure that Pennsylvanians can get coverage either through MA, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or affordable coverage available through  

When will the PHE end?

We do not know when the federal government will end the PHE. 

The federal government has said they will tell us 60 days before the PHE ends. 

We will update this website once we know when the PHE will end. 

Also, DHS can text and email you important information like when your renewal is due. Sign up for text messaging and email notices by managing your communication preferences in COMPASS today!

What does this mean for me?

You will get a renewal packet in the mail when it is time to renew your MA. You will start to receive information in the mail about your renewal 90 days before it is due. 

It is very important that you complete and return the renewal forms even if nothing has changed. 

You can return the forms you receive in the mail or complete your renewal online in COMPASS. 

Completing your renewal will help DHS determine if you are still eligible for MA. If you are still eligible, your MA coverage will continue.

What do I need to do now?

The best thing you can do now is make sure your address and phone number are up-to-date with us so we can send you important information about your coverage. You can update your information:  

people updating contact information on a desktop computer and phone


Visit to update your information and sign up for alerts, updates, and renewal reminders.

You can also sign up for alerts to get information faster when it is your time to renew. (See “How Can I sign up for text alerts?) If you cannot access COMPASS, you can update your contact information by calling the Customer Service CenterThe Statewide Customer Service Center is a point of contact for applicants and recipients to ask questions about their benefits, report changes to their information, or seek help in managing their benefits without having to go to a CAO.

visit our PHE Glossary...
at 1-877-395-8930 or 1-215-560-7226 in Philadelphia.

When do I have to renew my benefits?

Everyone’s renewal date is different. You will start to get information about your renewal about 90 days before your renewal is due. You can opt-in to receive text messages from DHS. We will text you when your renewal packet is mailed, and you will also receive other important alerts and reminders about your benefits. See “How can I sign up for text alerts?” to sign up for text message alerts.

If you receive a renewal packet, you must complete it by the due date listed on the packet or your MA could stop.  If you are no longer eligible or you do not return your packet, you will receive a notice in the mail telling you when your MA coverage is scheduled to end.  

NOTE: Not all renewals will be sent right after the PHE ends. This will take several months, so be on the lookout for your packet when it is your turn to renew your coverage.  If you sign up for alerts, we can send you a text message when your renewal is mailed.

 Content Editor ‭[3]‬

Questions fading in and out include: 1.What if I lose my packet or it is not delivered? 2.What if I do not need Medical Assistance coverage anymore? 3.What does the PHE have to do with Medical Assistance?
Public Health Emergency


We've put together a list of some of the most common questions related to the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and Medical Assistance in PA.

Visit our PHE FAQs

What happens if I do not return my renewal forms?

If you do not return your renewal, DHS will have to end your coverage. If that happens, you can reapply for MA at any time. You may also get information about coverage available through Pennie if it is an option for you. 


How can I complete my medical assistance renewal once I get it?

There are a few ways for you to complete your renewal.

1) You can complete the forms we send you and mail them back in the envelope included in the packet;

2) You can drop your completed forms off at your local County Assistance Office;

3) You can complete your renewal on our COMPASS website; or

4) You can complete your renewal by phone by calling 1-866-550-4355.

What happens if I’m not eligible for Medical Assistance anymore?

If your renewal shows that you are no longer eligible for MA, there are options for you to stay covered. If you are not eligible for MA and are age 19 or older, we will send the information you gave us to Pennie. Pennie can help you review your coverage options and learn about financial assistance that may be available to help you pay for your coverage.  We will send you a letter telling you that we have sent your information to Pennie. 

Children who are under 19 and not eligible for MA will be directly connected to CHIP and parents will learn more about coverage.  

If you believe we made a mistake when we conducted your renewal and found you ineligible for MA, you can appealAppeal rights are provided with any decision made about Medical Assistance (MA) coverage. MA recipients have the right to ask for a hearing to appeal a decision that affects their MA benefits. Information about how to appeal is included with all notices from us.
visit our PHE Glossary...
 that decision. Directions for how to appeal are on the notice you get from us.  You can also provide us with information that you did not give us in your renewal, and we can check to see if that changes your eligibility. 

What is Pennie? Who can get coverage from Pennie? 

Pennie is Pennsylvania's official state-based health and dental insurance marketplace. Pennie lets you shop for plans available in your area and is the only place to get financial assistance (subsidies) to help pay for coverage. 

Pennie also provides local expert support to help you understand what plans are available to you and your family. Visit or call 1-844-844-8040 to learn more. Their support experts can help you over the phone, in person, or virtually in your preferred language. 

More about Pennie

What is CHIP? Who can get coverage from CHIP? 

CHIP provides high quality, affordable health coverage for families with children 19 or younger. 

CHIP covers all the care your child may need like:

  • well-child visits, 
  • doctors' visits, prescriptions, 
  • vision and dental care, 
  • and more. 

Learn more about CHIP at or by calling the CHIP Helpline at 1-800-986-KIDS (5437). 

More about CHIP