E-newsletter | March 17, 2020
EPI Stands with Rhode Islanders Grappling with the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
As we are monitoring developments every day, the Economic Progress Institute staff are especially focused on the effects of COVID-19 on those who have low incomes, or who are ill or disabled. These Rhode Islanders will bear greater burdens than most — not just from the virus but also from the social distancing we must follow to contain the virus's spread.

We will be sending out fact sheets about accessing benefits and services. Our first fact sheet below explains the availability of Temporary Disability and Caregiver Insurance (TDI and TCI) and Unemployment Insurance Benefits.

See the Department of Labor and Training's fact sheet here:
Time-Sensitive Information
Institute staff are working on fact sheets to explain access to other programs, but while we finish them here is some time sensitive information on a number of programs and services important to Rhode Islanders:
HEALTH CARE
Medicaid
Suspension of Renewals : The state has suspended Medicaid renewals and post-eligibility verification processes. Many people lose coverage due to administrative reasons (not eligibility) when they are required to renew or when the state conducts a quarterly check on eligibility. Suspending these processes protects on-going Medicaid eligibility.

Other changes : The state is asking the federal government to approve other measures that will protect access to Medicaid. Stay tuned.

Medicaid enrollment is available anytime.

Special Enrollment Period for HSRI coverage
There is a new Special Enrollment Period (SEP) available due to the Coronavirus through April 15th, 2020 to qualified individuals who are uninsured. Those completing an online application should indicate that they have experienced an “Other” SEP event and note COVID-19 or Coronavirus as the explanation. To complete the process, customers will need to choose a plan and pay for the first month of coverage. Coverage will begin on the first of the month following the application.

A SEP allows people who are not eligible for Medicaid because income exceeds the limit (or because they do not have a qualified immigration status – such as adults with green cards in status less than 5 years), and who missed the open enrollment period for HSRI coverage, to enroll now.

To apply for Medicaid or HSRI coverage – go to: HealthSourceRI.com or call customer support at 1-855-840-4774 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday – Friday.
FOOD
Food Sites for Children
Due to the closure of schools, free "Grab and Go" meals are available (March 16th - March 20th) for school children throughout Rhode Island. New sites are still being added so please check back or contact your school district or charter school for more options. All of these sites are operating on the same basis, which is that anyone aged 18 or under who shows up gets a free meal. There are no ID or residency requirements, but the child must be present; schools cannot give a meal to an adult on behalf of a child. View the latest sites here:

Food Pantries
The RI Community Food Bank has a list of food pantries around the state. This list is being updated regularly to reflect changes in food assistance program operations in response to COVID. Please call ahead to confirm a program is still open during their regularly listed hours. 


You can also reach out to United Way of Rhode Island by calling 2-1-1 from any phone.
UTILITIES
The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission adopted an emergency order on March 16, covering all electric, natural gas, water and sewer utilities. The order temporarily stops all collection activity for unpaid bills and prohibits new termination notices. It is in effect through April 16 for residential customers.
SNAP, MEDICAID, RI WORKS - APPLYING FOR AND KEEPING BENEFITS
The Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS) has closed its offices and has significantly expanded its call center capacity. New application processes are expected to be announced by the end of the week. In addition, DHS will be implementing substantive changes to protect current recipients and expand benefits as allowed by federal agencies. Stay tuned for more information.
TRANSPORTATION
Seniors and people with disabilities who have no-fare or reduced fare bus passes that expire this month, do not need to renew them. The expiration deadlines are extended at least one month. Passengers need to show their passes to the driver, since the passes will not work at the farebox. 
W e will also be providing additional information on the status of these programs as more information becomes available.

Thank you to our 2019 - 2020 Guide Sponsors
The Economic Progress Institute | 600 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Bldg #9
Providence, RI 02908
Telephone: (401) 456-8512 | www.economicprogressri.org | info@economicprogressri.org
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