The Affordable Care Act extends Medicaid coverage to children in foster care until age 26 — but with strict limitations.
Former foster children who have aged out of the foster care system at age 18 will be afforded mandatory extended Medicaid coverage up to age 26 under a provision of the Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as “Obamacare”) effective in January 2014.This provision is probably what most child advocates would call a strong leap in the right direction thanks to the Obama Administration’s efforts. The issue? In order to receive the extended coverage, these young people must continue residing in the state where they were in foster care.
As it stands now, most young adults are able to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26. When the provision takes effect, former foster children will receive healthcare coverage from the state until age 26 as well, a stark contrast from the system that is in place now which allows youth who age out of foster care to lose Medicaid coverage at age 18.
According to CNN, child advocates recognize that the provision shows tremendous progress in shaping policies that consider the many perils that former foster children face, but they also know that limiting the extension of the Medicaid age based on relocation could be adverse to the provision’s effectiveness.
A large number of young adults in America relocate at age 18 for college, jobs, or even just a change of scenery after graduating from high school. While youth who are fortunate enough to have parents with insurance will be able to remain on their parents’ insurance if they move to another state, former foster children may lose their coverage if they do the same.
The new portion of the Affordable Care Act does not make it mandatory for states to continue covering former foster care children when they move to another state. However, it also does not prevent states from covering young adults who move outside of the state upon turning 18 if the states so choose.
Child advocates are currently circulating a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at the Department of Health and Human Services in the hopes of revising the provision to implement mandatory health coverage for all former foster youths regardless of whether they relocate to another state.