Washington, D.C.- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that he has introduced legislation, The Health Insurance for Former Foster Youth Act, that would fix a glitch in the current healthcare system that could kick former foster youth off Medicaid if they move to a different state. Casey’s bill would extend Medicaid coverage to age 26 for all former foster youth who were in foster care on their 18th birthday and were already enrolled in Medicaid, no matter what state they live in. Congress intended to provide this coverage through the Affordable Care Act, to create parity between these individuals and young adults who can stay on their parent’s health insurance until the age of 26. However, the law has been implemented in a way that leaves some former foster youth out if they move to another state.
“A former foster youth’s ability to access healthcare coverage shouldn’t depend on their zip code,” Senator Casey said. “This is a commonsense fix so that former foster youth have the same ability to access health coverage as other young Americans.”
The bill has also been recognized by the First Focus Campaign for Children. First Focus’ President Bruce Lesley stated, “We applaud Senator Casey for his leadership and urge his colleagues to quickly advance this common-sense reform. Moving across state lines shouldn’t cost young people their health care – especially former foster youth, who often struggle with extra health burdens.”
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 intent of the original provision in the Affordable Care Act was to ensure that all former foster youth who were enrolled in Medicaid when they aged out can maintain that coverage until they turn 26.