Jun. 10, 2020 / Newspaper Columns

By State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) 

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services reminds residents that public assistance programs remain available to families throughout the COVID-19 public-health emergency.

The state help includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and other services established specifically in response to COVID-19 like the Emergency Assistance Program (EAP), the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Recovery Crisis Program, and the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) programs. Each of these programs can assist individuals who have lost income or employment meet basic needs until they are able to start work again.

Residents who have lost health coverage or are currently uninsured and need coverage for themselves or their children may qualify for coverage through Medicaid and CHIP. There are income limits for Medicaid, but all children qualify for coverage through CHIP.

SNAP helps people expand purchasing power by providing money each month to spend on groceries, helping households have resources to purchase enough food to avoid going hungry. As the nation faces the COVID-19 pandemic, access to essential needs like food is more important than ever to help keep people healthy and mitigate co-occurring health risks.

Pennsylvania was also approved to offer the temporary P-EBT program, which extends benefits to families with children who receive free or reduced-price school meals through the National School Lunch Program and is designed to bridge the gap left by schools closing and help families who may have strained resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

DHS also established the EAP to help low-income families who lost wages experiencing financial challenges due to the health crisis. Applications will be accepted online through June 12 or until all funds are expended.

LIHEAP aids with home energy bills for both low-income renters and homeowners, helping ensure continuity of utility and other energy services. The LIHEAP Recovery Crisis Program, created in response to the pandemic, provides a crisis benefit up to $800 for qualifying households. The program will run through Aug. 31.

Residents can apply online for these programs at any time at www.compass.state.pa.us or, if preferred, paper documentation can be mailed to their local County Assistance Office. Those with questions about any of the programs can call the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930.

Representative Tarah Toohil
116th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office
RepToohil.com / Facebook.com/RepToohil