How Health Insurance for Former Foster Youth is in Danger. As the 115th Congress and the new Trump Administration roll out their proposals to reform the Affordable Care Act, it is important to ensure that the provision that covers former foster youth until age 26 is not forgotten. While the provision that allows children to stay on their parents’ health insurance is a popular feature that is likely to be retained, it is important to note the coverage for former foster youth is a SEPARATE provision, and not necessarily on the radar of the policymakers who will lead reform of the Affordable Care Act. States agencies and advocates should continue to enroll youth if they meet the eligibility criteria, and collect data on how many youth are enrolling and what outcomes they are able to achieve through continued healthcare.
How can we advocate for the foster youth in danger of losing their health care?
Call-in day Wednesday, February 15th
Children get to stay on their parents’ insurance policy until age 26. Foster youth do not have this benefit. By no fault of their own, foster youth are removed from their own homes and parented by the state. Medicaid to 26 provides them coverage on par with their peers who were raised by their families. About 20,000 young people age out of the foster care system each year, and they are more likely than their peers to suffer from health issues due to exposure to trauma, homelessness, and neglect. Members of Congress need to know that the health and well-being of tens of thousands of youth is at risk if the ACA is completely repealed. Please join us in advocating to ensure coverage for these young people. Heres how you can get involved!
Call Congressional and District Offices
Let your representatives know that this is important to their constituents. Call the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121. The operator can direct you to your Representative and Senators offices or you can find your local representatives and Senators by clicking the links above.
Spread the word to your networks
Forward this information to others via listservs, twitter, facebook and other social media.
Join the conversation on Twitter or Facebook by using #ProtectOurCare #Coveredtill26 #Medicaidto26 and #SupportFosterYouth
What to Say When you Call your Representatives
When you call your Representative and Senators, tell them that you want Medicaid for former foster youth to be saved and that it is needed by former foster youth. You can tell them why having health insurance until age 26 is helpful or will help you.
Here are some things you may want to say:
- I am a foster youth and will age out of care soon. I am not sure that I will have health insurance unless Medicaid for former foster youth is in place. Here are some of the reasons that having health insurance is important to me and will help me: _____________________________________________. (If you have special health or treatment needs, you could share specifically how having health insurance will help keep you healthy.)
- I am a former foster youth and currently have health insurance because of the Medicaid for former foster youth program under the ACA. Because of this health care coverage I am able to get the following care_______________________________________. Here are some of the reasons that having this health insurance is important to me and will help me: ___________________________________________. (If you have special health or treatment needs, you could share specifically how having health insurance will help keep you healthy.)
Here are some more ideas for what you can say:
- If having health insurance is helping you get or keep a job or stay in school, let your Representative and Senators know.
- If you are not sure you would have health insurance without the Medicaid for Former Foster Youth program, let your Representative and Senators know.
- If you want your Representative and Senators to stand up for foster youth, let them know they should support the Medicaid for Former Foster Youth Program.
Transition-aged foster youth are in danger of losing their health Insurance
Background. Youth aging out of the foster care system face unique challenges that can inhibit their ability to thrive and succeed as adults. Recognizing this, Congress included a provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows youth who age out of foster and enrolled in Medicaid to remain eligible for Medicaid coverage until the age of 26. This provision was drafted as an equitable response to young adults being allowed to stay on their parent’s insurance until the age of 26.
Characteristics of Former Foster Youth
Currently, there are over 400,000 children in the foster care system. These youth have often experienced abuse, neglect, or been exposed to substances, which can have significant impacts on their physical and mental health. According to the Congressional Research Service, 35-60% entering foster care have at least one chronic of acute health condition, such as asthma, cognitive abnormalities, visual and auditory problems, dental decay, and malnutrition, and 50-75% show behavioral or social competency problems that may require mental health services. Foster youth are also more likely than their peers to be prescribed multiple psychotropic medications. Over 20,000 youth age out of care each year with little to no support as they transition into adulthood. As a result, many youth struggle to find housing, jobs, and obtaining a college degree. Before the Affordable Care Act went into effect, over 48% reported not having health insurance after leaving foster care.
ACA Medicaid Coverage to 26 Provision
The Affordable Care Act provided a new Medicaid category for former foster youth. To enroll youth must be:
- Under 26 years of age
- In foster care under the responsibility of the State on the date of attaining 18 years of age or such higher age as the State has elected
- Enrolled in the Medicaid State plan or under a waiver of the plan while in foster care
This provision went into effect January 1, 2014 and has helped tens of thousands of former foster youth obtain health coverage. This eligibility does not have an income requirement and states are required to cover all former foster youth regardless of whether the state has opted to expand Medicaid coverage. CMS projected that by 2017, 74,000 youth would be enrolled in this category.