• September 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 8

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Medicaid Coverage for Youth in Care

Effective January 1, 2014, the Federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires States to extend Medicaid health insurance coverage to age 26 for youth who were in foster care at age 18. This federally supported provision will provide much-needed health and behavioral health services, but States face many challenges to getting and keeping youth enrolled in the program. A new publication from the State Policy and Advocacy Reform Center (SPARC) provides guidance for State and Federal child welfare advocates, policy experts, and practitioners on the effective implementation of the law.

The publication begins with a review of the requirements of the law and a description of the types of health services that can be accessed by the youth, including mental health services and substance abuse treatment. The authors then highlight strategies for State agencies to ensure youth stay enrolled in the program, including reaching out to young people under age 26 who transitioned out of foster care in recent years (and are still eligible for coverage); streamlining the enrollment process for youth who are about to age out; and considering alternative, integrated approaches to delivering health services in addition to health insurance coverage.

The SPARC initiative is supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative. The Affordable Care Act and Youth Aging Out of Foster Care: New Opportunities and Strategies for Action is available here:

http://www.clasp.org/resources-and-publications/publication-1/The-Affordable-Care-Act-and-Youth-Aging-Out-of-Foster-Care.pdf (226 KB)

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