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The Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and Youth Transitioning from Foster Care

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires states to provide young people who have aged out of the foster care system with health insurance via Medicaid until their 26th birthday.  The provision is intended to mirror the extended coverage available to young adults whose parents have private health insurance. However, varying state interpretations of the provision have effectively blocked these young people from accessing their federally mandated coverage. The result is that only 13 states have made Medicaid coverage available to all residents who age out of foster care, regardless of the state in which they aged out.

The policy brief, Fostering Health: The Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and Youth Transitioning from Foster Care, outlines the unique health needs of young people in and aging out of foster care; describes the coverage former foster youth are entitled to under the ACA, the restrictions states have applied, and reasons for opposition; and makes recommendations to legislators, state policymakers, and advocates for removing barriers to access.  The brief also highlights the need to ensure that young people have the knowledge and skills to use their health care coverage.


The Winston Foundation