Some family budget changes will be happening as Illinois winds down the COVID-19 emergency.
Governor JB Pritzker declared May 11 as the end date for the public health emergency. Maybe the biggest impact to many families will be the reduction of SNAP benefits.
“The public health emergency will be ending in May,” said Janet Hill, chief operating officer for the Rock Island County Health Department. “That doesn’t mean COVID is going away. The virus has not been eradicated and states of emergencies are intended to be temporary and when these emergency powers expire that means some of the polices expire.”
There will be changes in federal funding and accessibility to some healthcare benefits once the emergency declaration ends.
“The biggest changes people will see as they’ve gotten used to access to free testing and free vaccinations — those will move to a more traditional U.S. health care mechanism where they will be subject to co-pays or deductibles.”
Changes will take place starting as soon as next month.
Illinois families that currently receive two monthly SNAP benefits will only receive one monthly payment loaded to their card.
There are also concerns that some children may not get the nutrition they need. But there are other options available.
“One of the ways that families can make sure that they have enough healthy food in the house is to see if they’re eligible for WIC,” Hill said. “Anyone who is on SNAP is automatically eligible for WIC if they have a child who is younger than five or are pregnant. WIC is a nutrition education and supplemental foods, so you would be getting the guidance of a nutritionist or a nurse.”
Rock Island County health officials say people should still take COVID-19 seriously even after the public health emergency ends.
“So it’s really important that people take personal responsibility and when they feel sick seek testing, whether that’s through their medical provider or a home test,” Hill said. “And once they get a positive test to stay home.”
The Rock Island County Health Department says Illinois is considered to be in a low transmission state for COVID-19 currently.