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Focusing on the initiative- dubbed the Porch Light Project – to safely reduce the number of children and youth in foster care in PA and to ensure a forever family for every child.

Pennsylvania Commits to Continued Medicaid Coverage for Former Foster Youth

As we’ve noted, Pennsylvania is one of 14 states that extends Medicaid health insurance coverage until age 26 to youth who have aged out of the foster care system in another state. Last fall, the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services released a bulletin detailing the steps a state must take to continue to offer this coverage, which is allowed under Section 1115 of the Social Security Act. In January, the Department of Human Services held a public meeting in which it was announced that the state would continue to support Pennsylvania young adults who have aged of foster care, regardless of what state they’re from, by completing the necessary waiver application.

The 1115 waiver plan, due in May, will ensure that the 18 former foster youth from other states currently covered under the Medicaid state plan will continue their coverage, and ensure additional youth who move to PA will be eligible for coverage as well.

To protect the overarching Medicaid to 26 provision of the ACA, our partner, Juvenile Law Center, recently collected signatures from current and former foster youth affected by the provision. The signatures were added to a letter to Congress, asking members to ensure that this provision is protected as efforts to change health care law are undertaken in the coming months. In addition to the letter, on Wednesday, signers and other supporters of the ACA were encouraged to participate in a national “call in day”, calling their Representatives and Senators to explain how the law affects current and former foster youth, and why it’s important to save it.

Here in Pennsylvania, over 700 youth aged out of the foster care system in 2016, while over 20,000 did so nationally. These young adults are more likely than their peers to experience health issues requiring medical insurance coverage due to the experiences in and prior to foster care, such as exposure to trauma, abuse and neglect.

The state has already committed to providing this vital coverage to all former foster youth in Pennsylvania, regardless of where they spent time in care. The call in day and letter, which can be found here, argue that our federal government should do the same. 

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