RELEASE – Youth in Foster Care get Healthy Opportunity from Medicaid

***For Immediate Release***

NE_Appleseed_Icons_AgingOut-128October 24, 2014

Contact, Jeff Sheldon
Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed
Office: (402) 438-8853
Mobile: (402) 840-7289

ACA Medicaid Provision gives Healthy Opportunities to Youth Formerly in Foster Care

New report shows only small fraction of eligible youth currently enrolled

LINCOLN — The Affordable Care Act provides young adults who age out of foster care a new opportunity to make a healthy transition into adulthood with a provision that allows them to receive Medicaid coverage until age 26. This parallels the law’s popular provision that allows young people to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26.

However, data released today at an interim study hearing (LR 533) at the State Capitol shows more work must be done to get eligible young adults formerly in foster care enrolled in coverage.

State Senator Sue Crawford, who sponsored LR 533, said not receiving access to health coverage can lead to negative consequences for youth who age out of foster care as they begin the important transition into adulthood. She stressed the need for a greater effort to inform young people they are eligible and to remove administrative barriers to enrolling them in coverage.

“Without access to medical treatment, young people who age out of foster care face obstacles that can prevent a healthy start to adulthood,” Senator Crawford said. “Creating a simple, streamlined process for eligible young adults to get enrolled in Medicaid will improve their health outcomes and give them the same healthy opportunities as their peers.  It is clear we as a state have much work to do to raise awareness and educate former foster youth about this option, but there are many outstanding partners ready to work together to meet this challenge.”

Also Friday, Nebraska Appleseed released a report “Medicaid to 26: Ensuring A Healthy Start to Adulthood After Foster Care,” which details the status of Nebraska’s implementation of the new mandatory category of Medicaid for former foster care children to age 26 under the ACA based on data from the interim study.

According to the report, more than 3,000 young adults in Nebraska may be eligible for this health coverage, yet only 3 percent of them are currently enrolled.

“Health care coverage is important not only for the purpose of being physically and mentally healthy, but also to be economically secure,” said Sarah Helvey, Nebraska Appleseed Child Welfare Director. “The ACA’s coverage of youth formerly in foster care is crucial and must be properly implemented to improve outcomes for young people in Nebraska. As a state, we can do more to improve outreach, ensure transition planning and automatic processing requirements are met, streamline application and renewal, and cover youth who exit foster care in other states.”

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