A recent study completed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services revealed that not all children who are in foster care and enrolled in Medicaid are receiving health screenings that are required by federal law.
Specifically, the report found that nearly one-third of children in foster care in Texas, California, Illinois, and New York, who are enrolled in Medicaid, did not receive at least one required health screening and more than a quarter received at least one screening late.
Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT), referred to in Nebraska as “HealthCheck,” is a comprehensive benefits package available to all Medicaid-eligible children under the age of 21, many of whom are children in foster care. Under EPSDT, states are required by law to provide four different types of regular screens for Medicaid-eligible children:
- and Dental.
Furthermore, EPSDT also ensures that children receive treatment services that are “medically necessary to correct or ameliorate any identified conditions.”
Although the federal study was conducted in other states, it should be concerning for Nebraska as well. On average, children in foster care experience physical, mental, and behavioral health challenges at a higher rate than their same aged-peers. Therefore, it is critical that this population receive regular screening to identify necessary treatments as soon as possible so these children have an opportunity to live happy and healthy lives.
The report urges the Administration on Children and Families to work with states to identify any barriers that may prevent children in foster care from receiving required screenings and also to identify, disseminate, and implement strategies to overcome these barriers. Nebraska should take note of the shortcomings found in other states so we can better serve our most vulnerable children and stay in compliance with federal law.