In a letter addressed to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, 10 House Democrats claim that HHS has imposed a state residency requirement in a proposed rule that would extend Medicaid eligibility to foster children between the ages of 18 and 26 that was not the congressional intent of the law. The lawmakers say that the intent of the law was to ensure that any young person who had been in foster care on their 18th birthday and was enrolled in Medicaid, would be able to enroll in Medicaid up until age 26, starting in January 2014. The letter, spearheaded by Representatives Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Karen Bass (D-CA) goes on to clarify that the provision in the Affordable Care Act which expands Medicaid eligibility for former foster youth was intended to provide coverage similar to that provided for young adults who are eligible for health care coverage under their parents’ health insurance plans. The latter provision, the letter argues, includes no residency requirement and therefore no specific state residential requirement should be imposed on foster youth within the Medicaid program. In closing, the letter urges HHS to issue a final rule that not only provides states with the option of extending Medicaid, but ensures that states provide Medicaid benefits to age 26 for all eligible former foster youth residing within the state.
CWLA has also submitted comments to HHS urging them to require states to expand Medicaid coverage for all foster youth, not just those residing in the same state in which they were in care upon age 18 (or age of emancipation in respective jurisdiction).