Shapiro Administration Gets Stuff Done: Reducing Medicaid Red Tape, Keeping Pennsylvanians Covered During First Year in Office

Harrisburg, PA - Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh today underscored the Shapiro Administration’s get stuff done approach by highlighting its work to cut red tape and keep millions of Pennsylvanians covered through Medicaid amid major federal changes to the program. 

“Every Pennsylvanian deserves the dignity and peace of mind in knowing that they can go to the doctor or fill a prescription when they need to, and thanks to the continued great work of DHS staff, that includes more than 3.3 million Pennsylvanians who currently have Medicaid for their health coverage,” said SecretaryArkoosh. “Over the past year, the Shapiro Administration has shown its commitment to improving access to quality, affordable health care for all Pennsylvanians and paving the way for more health care providers to be part of the Medicaid program. I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished in less than one year, and I am so grateful to the hard-working and dedicated staff at DHS who made this progress possible.” 

A major accomplishment came within the first 100 days of the Administration whenDHS reduced the number of providers waiting to enroll or revalidate their enrollment in the Medicaid program by 75 percent. That backlog was completely eliminated by June, expanding the number of health care providers available and giving Medicaid recipients more options for care. 

The Department also got to work to keep Pennsylvanians covered when federal pandemic-era rules came to an end in March that previously allowed individuals to stay enrolled in Medicaid even if they became ineligible – except in certain circumstances. Now, Pennsylvanians who get their health care coverage through Medicaid or CHIP must complete a renewal every year to make sure they are still eligible. This is also known as the Medicaid unwinding process, which will continue through April 2024. 

Highlights of the Medicaid unwinding so far include: 

  • DHS answered more than 2.6 million phone calls from Pennsylvanians who have questions about or need help with their Medicaid renewals. 

  • DHS made 2.5 million direct outreach attempts via text and phone call to help keep Pennsylvanians informed about their renewals. 

  • Since the spring, DHS has held more than 20press conferences, roundtable discussions, and community events across the state to provide critical resources about the federal changes. 
  • DHS is running paid media campaigns to alert Pennsylvanians of the changes to Medicaid.
    • Currently running on TV, traditional and internet radio stations, YouTube, Google, and social media sites. 
  • To further meet people where they are, DHS has been working with a grassroots outreach partner to hold events in grocery stores, bodegas, faith centers, and cultural festivals. 
    • These efforts have included communities with large numbers of Spanish-speaking Medicaid recipients. 
  • DHS processed just over two million Medicaid renewals while also processing more than two million new Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Low-Income Household Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) applications. 

  • Based on data from April-July 2023, more than 700,000 Pennsylvanians who have completed a renewal have kept their Medicaid coverage. 

  • DHS has worked closely with Pennie®, Pennsylvania’s health insurance marketplace, so that people who are no longer eligible for Medicaid are automatically transferred to Pennie to find other low- or no-cost health care plan options. As of November 2023, more than 36,000 Pennsylvanians have enrolled in coverage through Pennie. 

  • Based on final outcomes data from the first four months of the unwinding (April – July, 2023), 14.9 percent of Medicaid renewals were procedurally closed because DHS did not receive any response to the renewal opportunity and coverage was not reopened through an appeal or a renewal returned late.  
    • A procedural closure means that a person no longer has Medicaid coverage because they did not complete their renewal or respond to DHS’ requests for more information. 

Pennsylvania’s low procedural closure rate speaks to the tremendous efforts of DHS staff, managed care organizations, health centers, community-based organizations, and many other partners who have helped to communicate changes about Medicaid renewals, urging Pennsylvanians to apply and ultimately keeping more people covered. 

Earlier this year DHS launched a robust communications and data reporting campaign that includes: 

  • A dedicated website – – which includes FAQ, a communications toolkit, federal and state data on renewals, and examples of communications that Medicaid recipients receive via mail, phone, and text. 

  • “Stay Covered PA,” a program featuring DHS and Pennie®, which explains the change to annual renewals and how people can get health insurance if they are no longer eligible for Medicaid. The program is available online and will air for six months, through January 2024, on TV stations across Pennsylvania. 

  • A comprehensive, long-term media and community outreach strategy to help educate Medicaid recipients, providers, community organizations, health care systems, legislators, and many others on this change. 

  • Op-Eds from Secretary Arkoosh in outlets across Pennsylvania, stressing the importance of Medicaid renewals and for recipients to keep their contact information up-to-date with DHS. 

In addition to the Medicaid renewal process, the Shapiro Administration highlighted the following accomplishments in its first year: 

  • The Administration launched as a one-stop shop to educate Pennsylvanians on their health insurance options. 

To learn more about Medicaid and CHIP renewals and to access educational resources, visit

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DHS Media Contact Details

Press Office

Department of Human Services 717-425-7606
Department of Human Services Media

Ali Fogarty

Communications Director Department of Human Director 717-425-7606
Department of Human Services Media

Brandon Cwalina

Press Secretary Department of Human Services 717-425-7606
Department of Human Services Media