S.1797 - Health Insurance for Former Foster YouthRichard Blumenthal, Robert Casey Child Abuse & Neglect Health
The Affordable Care Act extended Medicaid coverage to age 26 for all foster youth who were in foster care on their 18th birthday and were already enrolled in Medicaid. This provision of the law was intended to create parity between these individuals and young adults who can stay on their parent’s health insurance until the age of 26. It is mandatory for every state.
Unfortunately, CMS’s implementation of this provision of the Affordable Care Act has created problems for some former foster youth. Under the regulations issued by HHS, individual states are only required to extend Medicaid coverage to former foster youth who remain living in the same state where they aged out of the foster care system. Although states can choose to extend Medicaid coverage to former foster youth who age out in another state, many do not do so. As a result, many former foster youth who move to another state may have trouble finding health coverage.
Research indicates that nearly 60 percent of children in foster care experience a chronic medical condition. While Medicaid provides vital assistance to these youth while they are in the foster care system, their health care needs do not end when they age out. Indeed, many former foster youth have physical, dental and behavioral health care needs that are well beyond those of the general population. The Health Insurance for Former Foster Youth Act:
• Clarifies that the original provision in the Affordable Care Act was to ensure that all foster youth who age out of the system can maintain that coverage until they turn 26;
• Eliminates the unnecessary loophole that these youth must be enrolled in Medicaid while they were in the system to qualify for Medicaid to 26;
• Expands Medicaid to 26 coverage for young adults who were in the system, but left at age 14 or older for a legal guardianship with a kinship caregiver; and
• Requires state Medicaid programs to work with state child welfare agencies to establish outreach and enrollment programs for this coverage. These outreach programs will be run in accordance with best practices established by HHS.