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ACA: Protect Vulnerable Populations

Cicely Berzack 
Policy Associate Intern for Voice for Adoption 
 

Overview of the Affordable Care Act (ACA):
       The Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, was signed into law in March of 2010. The law is composed of two main parts: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. Overall, the Act’s focus has three main objectives: 1) ensure health insurance is affordable to more people, specifically those who struggle financially, 2) expand the Medicaid program, again targeting low-income individuals, and 3) lower the costs of healthcare in general via new “medical care delivery methods.” The ACA is vitally important, specifically for foster children because it allows former foster care youth to receive Medicaid until they turn 26. There is no income requirement for the former foster care youth and the only eligibility criteria the young adults must meet are having received IV-E foster care or State-funded foster care and they must have enrolled in Medicaid at age 18. Medicaid offers a wide range of benefits including, but not limited to, x-ray services, appropriate immunizations, and comprehensive mental and physical assessments. The ACA is not the only pathway for former foster youth to receive health assistance, for example some States offer the Chafee option, however, no other policy besides the ACA provides the Medicaid benefits without harsh regulations to young formed foster adults until age 26. 
Why Voice for Adoption Supports the ACA: 
       Children in the foster care system are some of the nation’s most vulnerable populations. They face a range of heath challenges with unstable support systems. Because foster youth are often subjected to trauma, abuse, neglect, and loss, they also suffer secondary, comorbid effects such as behavioral issues, chronic conditions like asthma, and chronic medical conditions like diabetes. The expansion of healthcare, the ACA provides, directly helps these children struggling with health conditions. It is especially important Medicaid was expanded to cover former foster youths until 26 years old because those chronic conditions do not simply disappear at 18. Substance abuse is a leading factor in why the number of children in foster care is increasing, and the ACA provides more than $5.5 billion in services targeting substance use and the mental health effects that come as a result. Repealing the ACA would force 2.8 million people struggling with substance abuse to lose coverage. Overall, every individual needs competent mental and physical health resources and services. Children, especially during their formative years, have extremely vulnerable, fragile, and malleable health. Further, children in foster care face unprecedented and unparalleled challenges to their mental and physical health. To take away health resources from children already struggling with finding a stable family would be unforgivable. Children should never have to worry about where their next meal will come from, if they will receive medicine to alleviate physical pain, or if they have someone in their life to take care of them. The Affordable Care Act is vital to the health, wellbeing and the success of children in foster care. VFA urges Congress to maintain access to Medicaid for youth who aged out of foster care up until age 26 and maintain this benefit in every state and oppose special Medicaid waiver requirements that serve as a barrier to Medicaid and health care coverage.

 

Aging out of the foster care system- Child Crisis Arizona