California Healthline Daily Edition

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ACA Expands Health Coverage to Residents Formerly in Foster Care

A provision in the Affordable Care Act has made it more feasible for young adults who formerly were in foster care to gain coverage under Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, HealthyCal reports.

Background

Prior to the ACA, California extended Medi-Cal eligibility to former foster children up to age 21.

Under the ACA, those formerly in foster care now are eligible for Medi-Cal coverage until age 26. In addition, the law allows retroactive claims up to three months before the beginning of coverage.

The ACA also allows "uninterrupted eligibility," which permits young adults to remain in the Medi-Cal program without re-registering each year. 

Reaction

Rusty Selix, executive director of the California Council of Community Mental Health Agencies, said Medi-Cal access is "incredibly important" for young adults who have left the foster care system.

Selix said that individuals formerly in foster care are at a higher risk for incarceration or homelessness. He added that such individuals tend to have health problems, including mental health and substance misuse issues.

Selix also noted that former foster care recipients are "probably going to be the hardest group to enroll, because they're so disconnected from things and don't know to take advantage of rights that they have." He added, "It is a population that, without that [access to insurance], it was almost impossible to give them the help they need. Now, the funding is there, and it's just a matter of linking them to the services" (Richard, HealthyCal, 4/28).

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