HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Roughly 617,000 Pennsylvanians could lose their health insurance as a result of a pandemic-era policy that is now expiring.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) will reevaluate whether those enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are still eligible for coverage. Since March 2020, the federal government has protected Medicaid recipients from losing their health insurance by automatically re-enrolling them in the program.

The Pennsylvania DHS will now require recipients to complete an annual renewal package to maintain their coverage. If they do not qualify, recipients will be notified and referred to other healthcare coverage options. Denied recipients do have the option to appeal the decision within 90 days of receiving it.

As a result of the expired policy, Beacon Clinic in Harrisburg, which provides free care to individuals without insurance, is preparing to see a surge in patients.

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“We’ve beefed up our IT security to make sure that any info people provide to us is highly secure, and we’ve added additional staffing,” Beacon Clinic Executive Director Debra McClain said.

The clinic, which primarily serves Dauphin, Cumberland and Perry County residents, estimates that roughly 58,000 people across those three counties could lose coverage.

But McClain and her staff are ready to help as many Midstaters as they can.

“Beacon is what it says its name, and that’s a clinic for health and hope, and I think [we] provide both,” Marcellus C. Taylor, a Board Member at Beacon Clinic said.