COVID-19: ForwardHealth Program Updates for You and Your Family

We are committed to protecting the health and safety of our program participants during the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic. You are considered to be part of a ForwardHealth program if you participate in any of the programs listed below. Please check this page regularly to stay informed about the latest updates.

For information about COVID-19 and the Wisconsin Shares Child Care Subsidy Program, Emergency Assistance, and Wisconsin Works (W-2), visit the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families website.

Medicaid members can get at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests for no cost at pharmacies

Members of BadgerCare Plus and most Wisconsin Medicaid programs can now get at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests from Medicaid-enrolled pharmacies without having to pay. This new benefit makes it easier for you to test for COVID-19 without having to go to the doctor.

Here's what to know:

Bring your ForwardHealth ID card.Front of Forward Health Card

You will need to show your actual card, or the digital version, which is available on the MyACCESS mobile app on your phone, at your pharmacy.

You can get eight tests per person, per month, without having to pay.

There is no copay, fee, or cost of any kind for BadgerCare Plus and Medicaid members (even if you have both Medicaid and Medicare). Due to the nationwide shortage of at-home, rapid tests, you may only be able to get 1 or 2 tests at a time.

Some state programs do not provide free tests.

If you have private insurance, you will need to get tests through that insurance. Participants in limited benefit programs like SeniorCare, the AIDS/HIV Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), or the Wisconsin Chronic Disease Program (WCDP) cannot get test kits through ForwardHealth. If you are a member of the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), you should contact their PACE care team to find out about your options.

You can only get free tests from Medicaid-enrolled pharmacies.

You have to go to a pharmacy or pharmacy counter at your local grocery or drug store that can check your ForwardHealth coverage like they do for prescriptions..

  • You will not be able to go to the regular check out at stores, and you will not be able to get a free kit at stores that do not have pharmacies. 
  • You cannot get your money back for tests that you buy.
You may want to call ahead.

Checking your ForwardHealth coverage and getting the test kits can take a few minutes, just like when you fill a prescription. Calling your pharmacy ahead of time and providing your information, may help speed up the process.

Program updates as a result of COVID-19


This includes the Children’s Long-Term Support Program, Children’s Community Options Program, Birth to 3 Program, and Katie Beckett Medicaid.



This includes IRIS (Include, Respect, I Self-Direct), Family Care, Family Care Partnership, and PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly).


This includes Medicaid programs, such as BadgerCare Plus, SSI-Related Medicaid, and the Medicaid Purchase Plan.


This includes FoodShare and temporary food benefits in place of school meals, which are called Pandemic EBT.​


Broad changes in services as a result of COVID-19

These are changes that apply to many different programs.

 Rides to medical appointments

We are continuing to provide rides to medical appointments (called non-emergency medical transportation) during the COVID-19 pandemic for members enrolled in the following programs:​​

  • BadgerCare Plus
  • Wisconsin Medicaid
  • Family Planning Only Services
  • Medicaid Purchase Plan
  • SSI Medicaid
  • IRIS
  • BadgerCare Plus Express Enrollment for Pregnant Women
  • Tuberculosis-Related Medicaid
  • Katie Beckett
  • Care4Kids
  • Children Come First
  • Wraparound Milwaukee

Please schedule rides with Veyo as usual. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and you have a fever or other symptoms, please call your doctor to make sure you can be seen before you call Veyo to schedule a ride. When you call Veyo to schedule a ride, be sure to tell them if you have been exposed to COVID-19 or are feeling ill.

In most cases, rides are being limited to one member and one driver during the COViD-19 pandemic.

 Same-day rides to COVID-19 vaccine appointments

Do you need a ride to a confirmed appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine? You can schedule a ride with Veyo as soon as you confirm you have an appointment, even if it is the same day. Call Veyo at 866-907-1493 (TTY 711). Please have the following information ready:

  • Your ForwardHealth ID (found on your ForwardHealth card)
  • The address of where you will get your vaccine


Note: If you are enrolled in Family Care, Family Care Partnership, or PACE, please contact your care manager if your transportation provider is changing, you need help arranging a ride, or have questions.

 Mailed prescriptions

If you are enrolled in a Wisconsin Medicaid program, BadgerCare Plus, or SeniorCare, you may be able to get your prescriptions mailed to your home. You may also be able to get a three-month supply. Please check with your pharmacy to see if you can do this.



Frequently asked questions are now available. Find answers to general questions about telehealth, covered services, and changes to in-person requirements.

The Telehealth Information for You and Your Family brochure, P-02808, is now available. View it online or order printed copies.

If you are enrolled in Medicaid or BadgerCare Plus, you can get care through telehealth. Telehealth is audio and video contact with your doctor or health care provider using your phone, computer, or tablet. It may include:

  • Health care services
  • Getting a diagnosis
  • Consultations to discuss your treatment
  • Treatment for your medical condition

Medicaid will pay your doctor for telehealth services when they are provided to you in a way that is “functionally equivalent” to the services you would get during an in-person visit. This means you can see and hear your doctor as well as you can in person. Also, the visit should be just as safe and effective.

To do this, DHS will expand current permanent telehealth policy on the first day of the month after the COVID-19 federal public health emergency ends. For example, if the public health emergency ends on October 13, 2022, permanent telehealth policy will become effective on November 1, 2022. To learn more about health care services you can get through telehealth all the time through permanent telehealth policy, visit the Telehealth webpage

Right now during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are extra flexibilities for telehealth to ensure access to health services throughout this critical time. These will continue until the end of the federal public health emergency.

Temporary telehealth flexibilities

More options for communication platforms
Usually, providers delivering health care through telehealth need to use video communication applications that meet standards set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). However, these standards have been relaxed during the COVID-19 pandemic to make sure you are able to get health care even if you have limited technology for telehealth in your home. Providers can use any non-public facing remote communication product that is available. Public-facing communication applications, such as Facebook Live, should not be used.

Daily dosing contacts can be done over the phone
Usually, daily dosing contacts with registered nurses or licensed practical nurses working in an opioid treatment program clinic must done in person. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these contacts can be done over the phone.



Changes to in-person services

To protect your health and safety and to follow recommendations provided by federal, state, and local public health authorities, we have changed the way we provide some in-person services.

 Health care & FoodShare

Some income maintenance and tribal agencies are temporarily closed to in-person visits. You can find the status of your local office on the Income Maintenance and Tribal Agency Office Status Chart (PDF). These agencies provide eligibility services to people who are applying for or enrolled in health care programs like BadgerCare Plus and Medicaid, FoodShare, and the Wisconsin Share Child Care Subsidy Program (Wisconsin Shares).

Applicants and members are encouraged to apply for and manage their health care, FoodShare, and Wisconsin Shares benefits using the ACCESS website. They are also encouraged to use the MyACCESS mobile app to check the status of their benefits, get reminders, submit documents, update their address, and view their digital ForwardHealth or SeniorCare cards.

Call centers will still be open their regular hours, Monday through Friday. Please bear with us as there may be longer than usual wait times.

 Children's services

Children's Long-Term Support (CLTS) Program and Children's Community Options Program (CCOP)

Effective May 13, 2020, all support and service coordination contacts can be made either face-to-face or remotely (by phone or other electronic or virtual method). This decision is up to the family, and includes the following types of contacts:

  • In‐person contacts and assessments
  • Initial or recertification CLTS Functional Screens

In-person contacts can be replaced by phone or online contact that will not jeopardize the health and safety of the child and family. County waiver agencies will work with families to decide if they want face-to-face or remote service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The family leads this decision.

Discussion with the family about face-to-face support and service coordination will address available options for service delivery and the risks of each option.

Face-to-face services are still allowed. Families, county waiver agencies, and providers will work together to determine the best way to continue to support the needs of the family.

Some services may now be provided through phone calls or online

  • Community integration services
  • Counseling and therapeutic services, including camps, for which the desired outcome can be accomplished via verbal and visual cueing
  • Daily living skills training
  • Day services
  • Home modifications
  • Housing counseling
  • Mentoring
  • Relocation services
  • Support and service coordination
  • Supported employment –individual
  • Supported employment – small group
  • Supportive home care

Some group setting services can now be provided remotely (by phone or other virtual method)

  • Counseling and therapeutic services for which the desired outcome can be accomplished via verbal and visual cueing
  • Community integration services
  • Consumer education and training
  • Daily living skills training
  • Day services
  • Housing counseling
  • Mentoring
  • Supported employment–small group
  • Supportive home care
  • Training for parents and/or guardians and families of children with disabilities


Birth to 3 Program

Effective May 13, 2020, the following contacts can be made either face-to-face or remotely (by phone or other electronic or virtual method).

  • Intake (initial home visits)
  • Evaluation and individualized family service plans
  • Ongoing service delivery (home visits)
  • Service coordination

Families and county Birth to 3 Programs will discuss options for service delivery, either face-to-face (in the home) or remote. This discussion should address available options for service delivery and risks associated with each option. Programs are not required to provide face-to-face (in-person) services.

Katie Beckett Medicaid

As of March 13, 2020, DHS has suspended face-to face contact requirements. Children’s Long-Term Support (CLTS) Functional Screens and eligibility determinations may now be done with phone or electronic contacts.

All recertification activities are suspended.

 Adult long-term care

Family Care, Family Care Partnership, and PACE

In-person contacts with your care team can be made face to face using appropriate safety precautions. This includes:

  • Routine in-person contacts and assessments
  • Long Term Care Functional Screens

In-person contacts with your IRIS consultant can be made face to face using appropriate safety precautions. This includes:

  • Routine in-person contacts with IRIS consultants and/or Self-Directed Personal Care nurses
  • Annual Individual Support and Service Plan
  • Long Term Care Functional Screens



 Fraud alert

Everyone needs to watch out for COVID-19-related fraud! Scammers are using the COVID-19 pandemic to benefit themselves. Scammers may offer COVID-19 testing or treatment through phone calls, social media, and/or door-to-door visits. These services are not real and will not help you.

The scammers want to steal your personal information, such as your Social Security number, bank information, ForwardHealth ID, and QUEST card number or PIN. Scammers use this information to steal money or your identity.

You should not answer any ads for COVID-19 testing or treatment or give out any personal information in this emergency unless you know who you are talking to. You might get a call from a DHS employee who is conducting contact tracing. Please read what sort of information they may ask you to provide. If someone calls or visits you about COVID-19 and you think they are a scammer, you can report it.



Supporting your family through COVID-19

If you have questions about ways to protect yourself and your family, please check out the resources below.


Other infographics and print resources


Are you a county agency administering a program that serves children with delays or disabilities, such as CLTS, CCOP, or Birth to 3?

Get county-specific updates on program and service changes during the pandemic.

Last Revised: August 3, 2022

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