Legislation Introduced to Protect Health Coverage for At-Risk Youth

On October 12, Representative Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced legislation that would protect the Medicaid eligibility of incarcerated youth. Significant numbers of youth in secure confinement are enrolled in Medicaid upon incarceration, but are terminated from the Medicaid program during
incarceration despite the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services asking
state Medicaid programs to temporarily suspend, rather than terminate, these
enrollments. The At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act, H.R.3172, would prevent a youth’s eligibility for medical assistance from being terminated while they are incarcerated.  The bill calls for states to suspend coverage for these youth and automatically restore full eligibility for eligible youth upon
release from such institution and take all necessary steps to ensure that youth
can begin receiving medical assistance. When Medicaid enrollment is terminated, youth may wait as long as 90 days to for it to be reinstated. Murphy, a leader and advocate for juvenile justice policy, originally proposed this legislation as an amendment to the health care reform bill in the House. The amendment, allowing kids coming out of juvenile detention centers who had health insurance via Medicaid prior to their incarceration to regain coverage when they are released, passed but never made it into the final Affordable Care Act. The bill has been referred to the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

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