Texas CASA Champion Bill Spotlight: Helping Young Adults Exiting Foster Care Keep Their Critical Health Coverage

Learn about an important bill we’re championing this 87th Legislative Session: SB 1059/HB 2963!

SB 1059: RELATING TO THE PROCESS FOR DETERMINING THE MEDICAID ELIGIBILITY OF CERTAIN FORMER FOSTER CARE YOUTH.

Author: Sen. Paxton
Companion: HB 2963
About: Bill History/Bill Summary

For youth formerly in foster care, creates a streamlined process for determining eligibility for Medicaid including automatic enrollment or recertification, and simplifies the recertification process if needed, including residency requirements. Aims to prevent unnecessary interruptions to health coverage.

Status: Referred to House Human Services Committee as of 5/3/2021

Background

Unfortunately, youth who age out of the Texas foster care system rarely receive the mental and physical health services they sorely need, because of the difficulty they face in renewing their health care coverage.

Under federal law, youth who age out of foster care are eligible for Medicaid coverage up to age 26 through the Former Foster Care Children (FFCC) program. To qualify, individuals must have been under state conservatorship when they exited foster care. Texas provides these young adults with coverage by automatically enrolling them when they leave foster care. However, many lose health coverage or experience a disruption in coverage because they have difficulty renewing their benefits annually with the state. The Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study revealed that only 47% of foster care alumni managed to maintain health insurance after they exited foster care.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • As of December 2019, 4,565 youth were enrolled in Medicaid through the FFCC program
  • In FY 2019, a total of 1,212 youth aged out of foster care at age 18
  • In FY 2019, 220 youth lost their health coverage because the state could not locate them
  • In FY 2019, 729 youth were denied coverage before aging out of the FFCC program at age 26

WHY IS RENEWING BENEFITS SO CHALLENGING FOR YOUNG PEOPLE?

One reason youth formerly in foster care experience challenges renewing their benefits is because the state requires them to proactively update their mailing address. This proves difficult since many of these young people tend to move frequently, and often do not know how to update their address with the state.

If they do receive the renewal documents, they often find them confusing and complicated, which may lead to them completing them incorrectly. Failure to submit these renewal documents annually may lead to a gap in, or complete loss of, health care coverage.

HOW WOULD THIS LEGISLATION HELP?

SB 1059/HB 2963 helps streamline the annual renewal process for eligible youth enrolled in the FFCC program. It would direct HHSC to create a redetermination or self-attestation process that would automatically renew their coverage and help prevent any disruption in services. Streamlining this process not only helps youth, it also saves the state both time and money by eliminating the need for confusing renewal forms and specialized staff to assist these youth with renewing or recertifying their coverage.

Ensuring sustained and long-term medical and mental health care coverage for these young adults will allow them to meet their individual health care needs as independent adults. It will also allow them to explore educational and workforce opportunities without the risk of unexpected costs from potential medical expenses.

Interested in CASA’s Legislative Advocacy?

You can keep up with this legislation, as well as the status of other bills that would improve the child welfare system for youth and their families, on our Bill Tracker. If you’re interested in joining or starting a Legislative Advocacy Team (LAT) at your local CASA program, you can learn more on our website.

BACK TO THE CASA VOICE HOME PAGE