A report indicates few of Nebraska’s former foster children have taken advantage of a provision in the federal health care law that makes them eligible for Medicaid.
The Affordable Care Act offers Medicaid to any foster child who ages out of the system at 18 or 19, regardless of the former foster child’s income, up to age 26.
The report states that of the approximately 3,000 who would be eligible in Nebraska, only 3% have enrolled in Medicaid.
State Sen. Sue Crawford says they need the coverage.
“Insurance coverage for this population is very important for a number of reasons, not least of which is that former foster youth are more likely than their peers to suffer from chronic physical or mental health conditions,” Crawford tells reporters during a news conference at the Capitol.
Crawford says former foster children need health insurance coverage.
“According to a 2012 report by the Congressional research office, 35-60% of foster children enter the child welfare system with at least one chronic physical condition, while anywhere from 50-75% of these youths are in need of mental health treatment,” according to Crawford.
Akeeme Halliburton of Omaha aged out of the system at age 19. Now 21, Halliburton is covered by Medicaid and says others in his situation need health insurance coverage as well.
“Some young people aren’t able to get medication they need, because they don’t have the insurance,” Halliburton says. “Some people get hurt and just don’t go to the doctor, because, let’s be honest, they’re not cheap.”
State legislators and officials say greater effort will be made to sign up former foster children on Medicaid.