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December 2013Vol. 14, No. 9Medicaid to 26 for Youth in Care

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), youth aging out of foster care are eligible for retaining healthcare coverage under Medicaid through the age 26. A new issue brief by the State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center (SPARC) offers key steps for child welfare stakeholders on ensuring this extended coverage for youth.

The brief notes that advocates should make themselves familiar with the content of the law and its regulations. Next, data can be used to inform legislators, State administrators, and community stakeholders on the importance of youth outreach, in addition to tracking enrollment. The brief also advises advocates to work with both Medicaid and child welfare staff in order to coordinate planning for procedures related to youth outreach and benefit provision.

Once groundwork has been laid through knowledge acquisition, data gathering, and cross-organization collaboration, stakeholders can begin developing strategies for providing continuous Medicaid coverage to youth who leave care and for those who have already aged out of foster care but have not yet reached 26. Stakeholders should also work with legislators to ensure that youth who were in care in a different State are covered by the Medicaid plan of the State in which they currently reside.

Once the ACA is fully implemented, it is important to track execution of the extended coverage provision. SPARC encourages those who have documented successes to share their effective strategies so that these approaches can be used to help others improve relevant outcomes for youth.

As a supplement to the issue brief, SPARC also created a Medicaid Outreach Toolkit to facilitate outreach to youth. The toolkit offers examples of the types of materials that are likely to engage youth who have aged out of foster care.

The issue brief, Medicaid to 26 for Youth in Foster Care: Key Steps for Advocates, is available here: (273 KB)

The toolkit, Medicaid Outreach Toolkit, is available here: (209 KB)