Austin, TX – 90 year old retired nurse, Louise Moore, is relieved that her Medicaid and SNAP benefits will continue after office closures prevented her from getting her recertification documents in on time. Ms. Moore worked as a nurse for over 30 years starting Panora General Hospital, then going to Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital before ending her career as a charge nurse in the nursing home industry. She won two awards during her career for her work. Upon retirement and eligibility, she did what most Americans do at that age, she applied for benefits. She depends on these benefits to get by.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission officially released Bulletin 20-05, extending all recertifications for 6 months. This means that Texans receiving Medicaid or SNAP benefits will not be required to recertify until September. In addition, the work requirement is waived and HHSC will treat all recipients as exempt from the work requirement until September. This is welcome news for Texans who have lost their ability to work or cannot find a job as a result of COVID-19 related stay-at-home orders throughout the state.

On Monday, March 17, 2020, Lone Star Legal Aid submitted a request to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to halt benefit terminations and recertifications on behalf of Ms. Moore, a medically fragile, elderly retiree living in a rural area without internet or cell phone access. The requested state-wide moratorium would help worried recipients of SNAP and Medicaid facing recertification deadlines or termination of benefits while “stay home, stay safe” orders were being issued in counties across Texas.

Lone Star Legal Aid represents many clients who have recertifications due and who receive notices of termination if they do not return their documents within short periods of time. Many of these clients are elderly and medically fragile, and thus and especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus. Because of the current prevention measures in effect throughout the state, these clients are unable to comply with HHSC’s document requests. Additionally, many of our low-income clients struggle to eat and cannot afford internet services. In fact, in many rural areas, internet service is simply not available.

“I’ll tell ya, I appreciate Lone Star Legal Aid. I couldn’t get by without them. This is nothing but God, helping me through my attorney and the programs available in this country,” expressed Ms. Moore.

The agency’s decision will help ensure Texans receiving Medicaid and SNAP benefits continue to have their critical nutrition and medical needs met, even as the state responds to COVID-19.

** Name was changed to protect the identity of the client.

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at www.lonestarlegal.org.

Media contact: Clarissa Ayala, cayala@lonestarlegal.org.