Affordable Care Act Expands Coverage for Former Foster Youth

On June 27, in response to the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), Governor Brown signed SBx1 1 and AB 82, two significant pieces of legislation for California former foster youth. SBx1 1 extended Medi-Cal to former foster youth until age 26 and AB 82 implemented the Medi-Cal extension early for a limited population of former foster youth. Extension of Medi-Cal for the foster youth population mirrors a similar provision in the ACA allowing dependents to stay on their parents’ private insurance coverage until age 26.

SBx1 1 amended California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 14005.28 to implement the federal ACA by extending fee-for-service Medi-Cal coverage to qualifying former foster youth until age 26. Qualifying individuals are those who were in foster care on their 18th birthday. SBx1 1 also permits the state to seek federal approval to make changes to the redetermination process which would effectively reduce the number of former foster youth who have their Medi-Cal terminated when they cannot be reached due to a change of address. Finally, SBx1 1 extends coverage to age 26 to qualifying former foster youth from other states who move to California. We are awaiting federal guidance to determine whether all states will be required to extend coverage to former foster youth from other states or whether this will be a state option.

AB 82 provides a “bridge” to extend Medi-Cal until age 26 immediately for those youth who turn 21 between July and December 2013. Absent this bridge, these youth would have lost Medi-Cal eligibility on their 21st birthday. Due to the passage of AB 82, these youth will maintain coverage until age 26, and therefore benefit from the extension under the ACA earlier than their peers who turned 21 prior to July 1, 2013.

As California prepares to implement these new provisions, the Alliance stands by to assist former foster youth who encounter difficulty with their Medi-Cal.