The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons relating to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The act gives all American businesses, with fewer than 500 employees, funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members.

Due to the Act, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s (HHSC) is required to provide Medicaid and CHIP coverage to its recipients until the end of the public health emergency. Health benefits cannot be terminated unless the recipient dies, voluntarily withdraws from the program, or they move out of the state of Texas.  

According to HHSC’s Policy Bulletin for 2020-2021, as of September 2020, HHSC began processing renewals for Medicaid and CHIP benefits to verify that the eligibility criteria is still met. HHSC began sending out renewal packets and requesting that recipients complete the recertification process to validate eligibility. 

Unfortunately, this process has caused a bit of confusion with the recipient families due to no prior notice being delivered to them asking for a required completion of the renewal application. Additionally, some renewal applications would actually reflect that the recipient did not have to renew their benefits until a later date, even though the client had a renewal packet in hand.

LSLA was informed of the difficulties being faced after receiving renewal packets stating that benefits have been auto-renewed for a later date or that benefits are only being renewed on a month to month basis. HHSC has attempted to address the issue by letting recipients know that only if they receive a renewal packet, they are to complete it and submit it.

Recipients who were not notified by HHSC are encouraged to complete the renewal packet as soon as possible or apply for help with LSLA for help with the completion renewal packets. For those who missed the deadline to complete the renewal packet, LSLA offers assistance to look into benefit case status to determine if there is still a possibility of submitting the renewal or whether there will be a need to complete a new application for benefits.

If you or a loved one are a victim and need assistance, you can apply for free legal services by calling 1-800-733-8394 or by visiting our website at www.lonestarlegal.org.  For more resources, visit the Texas Crime Victim Legal Assistance Network.

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: media@lonestarlegal.org