COVID-19 Stakeholder Updates

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is responding to the COVID-19 outbreak with several changes and adjustments to eligibility for FoodShare, BadgerCare Plus, and Medicaid.

Required renewals for FoodShare members were temporarily postponed, but resumed in July

For FoodShare, renewals that were due in March, April, May, and June 2020 were postponed for six months. Starting in July 2020, FoodShare members were required to complete their scheduled renewals.

Required health care benefit renewals continue to be postponed

For health care benefits, renewals continue to be postponed during the federal public health emergency.

  • March, June, and September renewals were postponed until December 2020.
  • April, July, and October renewals were postponed until January 2021.
  • May, August, and November renewals were postponed until February 2021.

Most FoodShare interviews were suspended for April and May 2020, but resumed again on September 1, 2020

Until August 31, 2020, FoodShare applicants did not need to complete an interview with their income maintenance agency as long as they provided all the information necessary to process their applications. FoodShare interviews resumed on September 1, 2020.

Prior to this suspension, FoodShare interviews did briefly resume on June 1, 2020. Interviews were suspended during April and May 2020.

  • For more information about the suspension of interviews during August 2020, view our partner email.
  • For more information about FoodShare interviews and quality control reviews resuming in June 2020, view our partner email.
  • For more information about the suspension of interviews for April and May 2020, view our initial partner email.

Emergency FoodShare benefits

Under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, DHS was able to give households eligible for FoodShare benefits the maximum monthly benefit amount for their household size in March, April, May, July, August, and September 2020.

  • For more information about Emergency FoodShare benefits for September, view our partner email.
  • For more information about Emergency FoodShare benefits for July and August, view our partner email.
  • For more information about emergency FoodShare benefits for May, view our partner email.
  • For more information about emergency FoodShare benefits for March and April, view our partner email.

Temporary food benefits provided to children who receive free or reduced price meals through their schools

DHS is working with the Department of Public Instruction and the Department of Children and Families, to provide temporary food benefits to children who normally receive free or reduced price meals through their schools. This is referred to as Pandemic EBT or P-EBT.

  • Pandemic EBT benefits are available for the months that a child or children were eligible for free or reduced price school meals.
  • The deadline for applying for these benefits was July 31, 2020, to ensure families had an opportunity to receive the benefits they were eligible for. 
  • The unique nature of this program has made implementation challenging. DHS appreciates everyone’s patience as we work to ensure that families get the benefits they are eligible to receive.
  • For more information about P-EBT, view our updated partner email sent on July 2, 2020, or our initial partner email.

Online food purchasing available for FoodShare members and people receiving Pandemic EBT benefits

Since May 21, 2020, people who receive FoodShare or Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits have been able to order and purchase food on the Amazon and Walmart Grocery websites using their QUEST or P-EBT cards.

  • Amazon and Walmart are the only vendors authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to accept online payments in Wisconsin.
  • DHS supports the efforts of other Wisconsin-based retailers working with the FNS to become authorized in Wisconsin.
    • Some retailers are offering other options that can assist members during this time, such as having a FoodShare member use their QUEST card to reserve an order online, and then processing the payment in person when the member goes to pick it up.
    • People should check with their local grocery stores to see what options they offer.
  • For more information about this update, view our partner email.

Required FoodShare Six-Month Report forms temporarily eliminated, but resumed in July

FoodShare Six-Month Reports that were due for March, April, May, and June were eliminated. Members did not have to complete Six-Month Reports due in these months. Members needed to complete Six-Month Reports again starting in July.

MAPP work requirement temporarily suspended

The Medicaid Purchase Plan (MAPP) work requirement has been temporarily suspended. MAPP is a program that provides health care benefits to individuals with a disability who are working.

  • A letter was sent to MAPP members informing them of this change.
  • Another letter will be sent informing these members when they need to meet the work requirement again.
  • For more information about this change, read our partner email.

FoodShare work requirements and work registration requirement temporarily suspended

Starting on April 1, 2020, FoodShare members who are able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) were temporarily exempted from the work requirement.

  • Members received a letter notifying them of this exemption.
  • For more information about this update, read our partner email.

As of March 2020, FoodShare members were determined to have good cause for not meeting the work registration requirements due to COVID-19 and will not be sanctioned.

  • DHS anticipates this policy will continue for the length of the federal public health emergency.
  • For more information about this change, view our partner email.

Temporary change in verification requirements

DHS recognizes that applicants and members may have difficulty in obtaining verification from most employers, health care providers, banks, and other business during the pandemic.

  • As of April 13, 2020, workers can use member-reported information as the best available information in many instances when making an eligibility decision about an application, renewal, or change report.
  • For certain items, FoodShare members will receive a follow-up letter asking them to provide verification if they have it available.

Express enrollment expanded

As of April 18, 2020, DHS expanded hospital-based express enrollment for health care to the elderly, blind, and disabled populations.

MAPP and BadgerCare Plus children and childless adult premiums temporarily suspended

Premiums were temporarily suspended for BadgerCare Plus children and MAPP members as of April 1, 2020. Premiums were temporarily suspended for BadgerCare Plus childless adults as of February 1, 2020.

Suspension of eligibility terminations for Medicaid and BadgerCare Plus members

As of March 18, 2020, members who are enrolled in Medicaid or BadgerCare Plus will not lose eligibility for these programs during the federal COVID-19 public health emergency. Any member who was told they were going to lose eligibility had their benefits reinstated and received a letter informing them of this change.

Temporary suspension of the treatment needs question for BadgerCare Plus childless adults

People who did not receive BadgerCare Plus benefits solely because they did not answer the treatment needs question will receive benefits starting the first month for which they submitted a request.

  • On a temporary basis, these childless adults will not be required to answer the treatment needs question to receive benefits.
  • Anyone whose benefits were denied or terminated for not answering the question will regain their eligibility and receive a letter explaining the reason they are receiving the benefits.
  • For more information about this temporary suspension, view our partner email.

Additional $600 unemployment benefit will be counted for FoodShare but not health care benefits

  • For health care members, the economic impact checks sent as a result of the federal CARES Act will not count as income or as an asset for 12 months.
  • The additional $600 unemployment payments will also not be counted as income when determining eligibility for health care programs.
  • Additional unemployment benefits were counted as income when determining eligibility for the FoodShare and Caretaker Supplement programs through the end of these payments on July 25, 2020.
  • Since these benefits were counted as income for FoodShare, some individuals or households may have been determined to be ineligible for FoodShare benefits based on their income. DHS encourages these individuals or households to reapply for FoodShare benefits as they now may be eligible for them.
  • For more information about this update, view our partner email.
Last Revised: September 16, 2020