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TMCNet:  The Affordable Care Act Ensures Former Foster Youth Receive Critical Health Coverage Until Age 26

[February 19, 2014]

The Affordable Care Act Ensures Former Foster Youth Receive Critical Health Coverage Until Age 26

OAKLAND, Calif. --(Business Wire)--

Children Now today announced the launch of Coveredtil26, a statewide outreach campaign to ensure all former foster youth living in California know they are now eligible for Medi-Cal coverage until age 26. Previously, Medi-Cal coverage for former foster youth ended at age 21.

Although the Affordable Care Act provision extending health coverage to former foster youth took full effect on January 1, 2014, the majority of young adults who benefit from this new provision are not yet aware of this exciting opportunity. The Coveredtil26 campaign provides advocates, youth, and stakeholders with the necessary tools to learn about this new benefit and navigate enrollment barriers.

Each year, over 20,000 youth age out of the foster care system in the United States. In California alone, between 2,700 and 5,000 youth age out of foster care every year. These vulnerable youth too often lack adequate supports to make the transition to adulthood successfully. For example, they are much less likely than their peers to have health insurance, but tend to have more health care needs due to trauma experienced during childhood.

"The Affordable Care Act's extension of health coverage to age 26 fills a critical need for former foster youth who do not have the same option as their peers to stay on a parent's insurance plan," said Ted Lempert, President of Children Now. "However, it's imperative that state and county agencies work together to ensure theprocesses for enrolling in coverage are easy to navigate for this vulnerable population."


Children Now is working closely with the Department of Health Care Services, county social service agencies, and the County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA) to simplify enrollment processes for former foster youth and educate enrollment workers about this important ACA provision.

"Making sure that former foster youth can get the health care services they need and deserve is a high priority for the state," said Anastasia Dodson, associate director of the California Department of Health Care Services, which oversees the Medi-Cal program. "We are committed to work with our county partners, other state agencies, and advocates to ensure that these youth can promptly and easily enroll in Medi-Cal coverage."

Currently, the best way for former foster youth to enroll in coverage is to apply directly through a county social service agency office using a simple one-page form.

"Providing Medi-Cal coverage up to age 26 is one more way we recognize that many former foster youth who are transitioning into adulthood need continued support, including access to health care," said Frank Mecca, CWDA Executive Director. "This is a great change, and our county social service agencies are diligently working to ensure eligible youth do not miss out on this opportunity."

Former foster youth qualify for Medi-Cal coverage until age 26 if they:

  • Were in foster care in any state at age 18 or older,
  • Are younger than 26 years old, and
  • Live in California now.

Youth are eligible for Medi-Cal coverage regardless of income. Because there is no open enrollment period for Medi-Cal, former foster youth can apply any time of the year.

For more information on the extension of Medi-Cal coverage for former foster youth and the Coveredtil26 campaign visit www.coveredtil26.org.

Children Now is the leading, nonpartisan, umbrella research, policy development, and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting children's health and education in California and creating national media policies that support child development. The organization also leads The Children's Movement of California.

The Coveredtil26 campaign is funded by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF). Created in 1992 as a private independent foundation, TCWF's mission is to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education, and disease prevention.


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