Child Welfare in the 21st Century

  • August 2013
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Former Foster Youth to qualify for Medicaid under ACA

Posted by lboyd544 on August 26, 2013

One lesser known provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that takes effect Jan. 1, 2014, requires states to provide Medicaid coverage until age 26 for young people who have aged out of foster care. The provision applies not only to those aging out of foster care in 2014 and beyond, but also former foster youth who have aged out since 2006, as long as they haven’t yet reached age 26 and were receiving Medicaid when they aged out.

The only “wrinkle” in the law is that a state is not required to provide coverage to former foster youth who aged out in another state. Instead, it is a state’s option to provide coverage to such young people, with the hope that states see the moral imperative of offering such coverage.

A key reason this “aging out” provision is included in the ACA is because it complements a similar provision allowing children to remain on a parent’s health insurance policy until age 26. In other words, the ACA recognizes that former foster youth deserve the same access to health care as any other young person.

We know former foster care children need health insurance. According to a study released by the Georgetown Center on Children and Families, approximately 80 percent of children in foster care have a chronic medical condition, and 25 percent have three or more chronic health problems. In addition, it is estimated there are about 11,000 children who previously aged out of foster care and have not yet turned 26 who would be eligible for Medicaid.  (from PA Partnership for Kids)

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