Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Bucks County Resources

Chester County Resources

Montgomery County Resources

Supporting Families with Postpartum Depression

Hotlines for Help with Benefits Access

  

  • Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) Helpline (Statewide): 877-570-3642
  • Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) Helpline: (Southeast PA):215-563-5848
  • BenePhilly (Philadelphia): 844-848-4376

Department of Human Services (DHS)

Utilities

  • Electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunication and steam utilities are prohibited from terminations due to an emergency order signed by Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille on Friday, March 13th. This will remain in place for as long as the Proclamation of Disaster, related to the Coronavirus, is in effect.
  • Comcast's Internet Essentials program will be offered free for 60  days to new customers. Customers are eligible to receive Internet Essentials if they are eligible for public assistance programs such as the National School Lunch program, Medicaid or SNAP and live in a Comcast service area. Furthermore, Comcast has pledged not to disconnect a customer’s service or impose late fees if they can’t pay their bills during the pandemic. 

County Assistance Offices (CAOs)

  • CAOs are continuing to operate during this time, but are closed for in person services. People should apply online or update info on the COMPASS website (www.compass.state.pa.us). To connect with the Consumer Assistance Center via phone the number is 1-866-550-4355. 
  • Individuals are still able to mail documents, but folks are encouraged to do as much as possible online. Please call PHAN's helpline 877-570-3642 if you need help 

Healthcare

 

  • Coverage: 
    • All major medical, Affordable Care Act  (ACA)-compliant plans, including those available through www.healthcare.gov, should cover medically appropriate COVID-19 diagnostic testing and associated treatment. Many insurers have announced that they will cover medically appropriate COVID-19 testing without any copays, deductibles, or cost-sharing for consumers. 
    • Loss of job-based coverage qualifies individuals for a  special enrollment period. If individuals enrolled in Marketplace plans lose income, they may qualify for increased subsidy, or may now be eligible for Medicaid coverage. Please go to www.healthcare.gov to update your income and learn more about your options. 
    • Medicaid (Medical Assistance) and CHIP covers medically appropriate laboratory testing for COVID-19 without copays. Associated treatment for COVID-19 is also covered, although there may be a nominal copay. If you cannot afford the copay at the time you receive the service, you will not be denied treatment, although your provider may send you a bill for the copayment amount.
    • Testing is also free for consumers who are uninsured. If individuals believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19, and do not have a primary care provider, they should visit a local ER, clinic, or urgent care center.
    • Medicaid applications are still being processed, and individuals should apply as normal. Individuals should note on the application if they have a health emergency related to COVID-19. DHS will continue to prioritize Medicaid applications where there is an immediate health concern, and self-attestations will be accepted. 
    • Excepted benefit policies, short-term, limited-duration (STLD) health insurance coverage, and/or health care sharing ministries can have significant limitations on coverage and may not provide the same level of access.
  • Testing: 
    • Testing is available through the PA Department of Health (DOH) and commercial laboratories. In both cases, a physician referral is needed. 
    • For testing through the DOH, consultation with the DOH is required. Physicians should call for consultation if: 
      • The patient is a contact of a confirmed case and is sick; 
      • The patient resides in a congregate care setting and is sick; 
      • The patient is a healthcare worker and is sick; 
      • The patient is hospitalized with relevant symptoms and has no alternative diagnosis. 
    • For testing through a commercial laboratory, consultation with the DOH is not required, and physicians can test if: 
      • The patient does not meet the above criteria, but is symptomatic; 
      • The patient does not meet the above criteria, is asymptomatic, but wants to be tested. 
    • Drive-thru testing is starting to become available in Philadelphia, but only available to those who have been directly referred by a physician
  • If consumers have questions about their insurance policy, contact your insurance or the Department of Health’s consumer hotline at (877) 881-6388.
  • Behavioral Health: 
    • The PA Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) has temporarily suspended certain requirements for providing behavioral health services via telehealth. 
    • Staff may deliver telehealth services via telephonic and video communication applications such as FaceTime or Skype available on smartphones, and through telephonic only devices when video technology is not available. 
  • Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD)
    • Consumers who are eligible for MAWD can be granted Good Cause during periods where they are furloughed from employment. MAWD coverage will not be canceled based on a lack of employment. Additionally, Good Cause can be granted to waive MAWD premium payments for up to two months. 
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services partially approved PA’s 1135 waiver which allows DHS to provide flexibility for Medicaid services and providers to ensure that they are adequately prepared to face the challenges of this crisis. 
  • Medicaid recipients will be allowed to obtain early refills of all  prescriptions at their pharmacy point-of-sale in order to make “stay at home” orders easier to follow. 

Immigration Information

  • Generally, humanitarian immigrants like refugees and asylees, people who have had green cards for more than five years, and “lawfully present” children under 21 and pregnant adults can get Medical Assistance (MA). 
  • Emergency MA is available to individuals who have an immigration status that makes them ineligible for MA. These individuals must have a medical condition that has severe symptoms, requires medical attention quickly, and can lead to serious harm to a bodily function or part without treatment. COVID-19 qualifies as an emergency medical condition in PA. 
  • Receiving MA is very unlikely to harm your immigration case, and MA follows strict privacy rules. The information you put on an MA application will be used only to determine MA eligibility and to make sure those who are eligible are able to receive and use their MA benefits.

SNAP/Food Assistance

  • The federal rule that says able-bodied adults without dependants (ABAWDS) would be subject to a three-month time limit on receiving SNAP has been halted until further notice. 
  • Non-ABAWD SNAP cases are prohibited from termination for the next three months, and work requirements will be modified for flexibility. 
  • Emergency SNAP applications can be expedited and issued in 5 days. Pennsylvanians can apply for SNAP online at www.compass.state.pa.us.
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture also has information on its website at: https://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Pages/COVID-19.aspx. If individual food pantries close, individuals can call their regional food bank, all of which are operating. 
  • A full list of what is covered and not covered by SNAP can be found in our SNAP Handbook, section 503.3, at http://services.dpw.state.pa.us/oimpolicymanuals/snap/index.htm#t=503_General_Information%2F503_3_Included_and_Excluded_Items.htm. These are specified in federal regulation and no changes or modifications were made as a part of the COVID-19 bill that Congress passed.

TANF

  •  The PA Department of Human Services is suspending face-to-face interviews and will not terminate or sanction recipients based on RESET requirements until further notice.

Housing

  • Foreclosures and evictions for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration will be suspended until the end of April
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court prohibited evictions, ejectments or other displacements from a residence based on failure to make a payment through April      3rd. 

Federal Action

  • On Wednesday, March 18th, the United States Senate passed HR 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives last week. 
  • The bill will create a paid sick leave benefit for Coronavirus-related absences that are not covered under an existing employer-provided paid sick leave plan. The legislation provides 80 hours of sick leave for full-time employees. Part-time employees would be eligible for paid sick leave based on the average number of hours worked over a given period of time. 
  • The bill expands the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to cover Coronavirus-related absences and add a paid component to FMLA benefits. 

Unemployment and Workers' Compensation

  

  • Unemployment Compensation (UC): 
    • Individuals can file for unemployment using this website: https://www.uc.pa.gov/unemployment-benefits/file. Individuals can also call 1-888-313-7284. However because of increased demand we encourage folks to apply online as much as possible. 
    • The one-week wait time necessary to apply for unemployment benefits, as well as the work search and work registration requirement, has been waived until further notice. 
    • You may be eligible if:
      • Your employer temporarily closes or goes out of business because of COVID-19
      • Your employer reduces your hours because of COVID-19
      • You have been told not to work because your employer feels you might get or spread COVID-19
      • You have been told to quarantine or self-isolate, or live/work in a county under government-recommended mitigation efforts
    • If you are eligible for UC, you will receive two approval letters and a four-digit PIN, which will arrive in the U.S.       mail. 
    • If approved, your first benefit payment should arrive within four weeks of filing. 
    • Continue filing your bi-weekly claim (every two weeks) – even while waiting for approval
    • Pennsylvania has set up a website for frequently asked questions around UC. It can be found here
    • Philadelphia Legal Assistance has created a comprehensive FAQ document on UC which can be found here
  • Workers’ Comp (WC): 
    • If you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19 in your workplace, you may be eligible for WC by either:
      • Notifying your employer to file a typical "disease-as-injury" WC claim, which requires you to provide medical evidence that you were exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace
      • Notifying your employer to file an "occupational disease" WC claim, which requires you to show that COVID-19 is occurring more in your occupation/industry than in the general population
    • If your COVID-19 claim is denied, you may file a petition with the Office of Adjudication

Student Loans

  • President Trump waived interest on all federal student loan accounts on Sunday, March 15th until further notice. More information can be found here.

Federal Updates COVID-19 Briefing Memo

April 2, 2020

 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Overview: 

  • The $2 trillion economic relief plan was signed into law by President Trump on Friday, March 27th.
  • Its components include stimulus payments to individuals, expanded unemployment coverage, student loan changes, different retirement account rules and more.
  • The bill provides federal aid to states, including nearly $5 million to Pennsylvania, in order to meet virus-related costs over the next year. 

Stimulus Payments

  • Under this legislation, eligible adults would receive a one-time payment of up to $1,200, and an additional $500 for every child in their household under 16. 
    • Single adults with an income of $75,000 or less will get the full amount. 
    • Married couples with no children earning $150,000 or less will receive a total of $2,400. 
    • Taxpayers filing as head of household will get the full payment if they earned $112,500 or less.
  • Adults who are over 16, but still claimed as dependents, are not eligible for stimulus checks. 
  • Individuals receiving social security retirement, SSDI, or individuals who are unemployed are still eligible for payments. 
  • Unfortunately, individuals are only eligible for this payment if they have a valid social security number.
  • The Treasury Department announced on April 1st that individuals who receive Social Security will no longer be required to file a tax return in order to receive a stimulus check; they will receive one automatically.  
  • Immigrants with social security numbers who meet the eligibility thresholds will receive the same cash payments as everyone else. However, undocumented individuals who are not authorized to work, will not receive those payments, even if they pay taxes.
  • Additionally, a family won’t be eligible if one parent is undocumented—meaning they have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. This includes the payment for children under 16 who are citizens. 

Expanded Unemployment Benefits

  • This legislation expands unemployment benefits (known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance - PUA) as a result of the crisis. Eligible workers will get an extra $600 per week on top of their state benefit, and benefits will be provided for an additional 13 weeks on top of state benefits.
  • Individuals cannot obtain combined state and PUA benefits for more than 39 weeks, and the extra $600 a week will end July 31st.   
  • The legislation also expands benefits to include the following populations: 
    • Individuals who are self-employed 
    • Individuals who work part-time 
    • Individuals unable to find work due to quarantine 
    • Individuals who have received a COVID-19 diagnosis, or are caring for a household member who has received one, and are unable to work as a result 
    • Individuals who rely on a school, a daycare or another facility to care for a household member so that they can work
    • Individuals who are unable to work because their employer is closed during the crisis 
  • For self-employed individuals, the benefit amount will be based on previous income, using a formula from the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program. 
  • Individuals who are already receiving unemployment benefits are also eligible for expanded benefits 
  • Additionally, the one-week wait time necessary to apply for unemployment benefits, as well as the work search and work registration requirement has been waived in Pennsylvania until further notice. 
  • PUA only applies to individuals who are authorized to work in the United States. Individuals who are undocumented or have temporary visas, could lose their legal status if they aren’t employed. Right now, an H-1B      visa holder has 60 days to find a new job if they are out of work and can receive unemployment benefits for that amount of time. 
  • For immigrants that are documented and authorized to work, the unemployment benefits will apply and will not be counted toward any public charge determinations.

Student Loan Payments

Retirement Account: 

  • For the calendar year 2020, no one will have to take a required minimum distribution from any individual retirement accounts or workplace retirement savings plans,      like a 401(k)
  • Individuals can withdraw from your IRA or workplace account up to $100,000 this year without the usual 10% penalty, as long as it’s because of the outbreak.
  • Individuals only qualify for this exception if they have tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • This legislation also allows individuals to take out twice the usual amount from their 401(k)s. 

Small Business Aid

  • The bill includes $370 billion for small businesses, and allows banks to lend directly to businesses, backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). 
  • Businesses would not have to repay loan money that was spent on paying employees, a mortgage, rent or utilities.
  • Additionally, business owners won’t have to provide personal guarantees or use available assets as collateral. There are no fees, and interest rates are capped at 4%
  • Loans are limited to $10 million, to businesses with 500 employees or less,      and loans covering salaries of over $100,000 a year wouldn’t qualify for forgiveness.
  • This portion of the legislation is retroactive to February 15th, 2020 to help bring workers who may have already been laid off back onto payrolls.

Healthcare

  • The legislation appropriated $100 billion for hospitals to treat COVID-19, and $1.32 billion in immediate additional funding for community centers. 
  • The bill, however, does not have any provisions to expand coverage or pay for COVID-19 related treatment for uninsured individuals.