Progress Lauded for Former Foster Kids

The state made life better for former foster youth in California this year, according to a report issued this week by a children’s advocacy group.

The National Health Law Program’s Lessons from California praised state health officials and lawmakers for changing a few systems problems that had been keeping many former foster kids from accessing health services they were legally entitled to have.

“Crucial improvements were recently made to this program, which resulted in California becoming a model for other states,” the report said.

Under the Affordable Care Act, foster children who graduate from the foster care system in California at age 18 still are entitled to Medi-Cal benefits till age 26 — in much the same way as children can be carried on their parents’ private insurance till age 26.

But thousands of young people in California were not getting Medi-Cal coverage, and it took efforts on several fronts to correct the problem, the report said:

  • The state in October figured out programming fixes for the CalHEERS system, which addressed a glitch that improperly counted income for former foster youth;
  • The Department of Health Care Services gave counties written instructions on how to properly process cases for former foster kids;
  • DHCS officials also made sure former foster children received hospital coverage independent from enrollment in Medi-Cal, called the Hospital Presumptive Eligibility program; and 
  • The state required counties to issue standardized notices of action in cases with former foster children ages 18 to 26, to make sure their eligibility for coverage was clear.

All of that will help make sure former foster youth get the Medi-Cal benefits they’re supposed to receive, according to Kim Lewis, managing attorney at NHeLP’s Los Angeles office.

“We are thankful for the recent improvements to the Medi-Cal former foster care program,” Lewis said in a written statement, “including programming fixes to the California Healthcare Eligibility, Enrollment and Retention System, new streamlined enrollment for former foster youth who apply through the Hospital Presumptive Eligibility system and the development of model notices of action and informational letters.”

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