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Legislative Update: Securing Access to Health Care for Former Foster Youth

The Affordable Care Act guaranteed children the ability to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26, and allowed foster youth who age out of care at 18 to stay on Medicaid until their 26 birthday, regardless of income. This provision promotes equity by helping foster care alumni stay connected to health services.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. We’ve heard from countless former foster youth who say that staying connected is more difficult than it needs to be in Arizona.

Take Oshianna (pictured above), a member of Fostering Advocates of Arizona (FAAZ). Oshi turned 18 just as she was getting ready to start college. She had not received her dorm assignment yet and was not sure where she would be living.  The DCS Caseworker enrolled her in AHCCCS and put the DCS office address on the application. Oshi never received a letter from AHCCCS asking her for information, and was unaware she lost coverage until she became ill and needed to be hospitalized. More than 90 days had passed since her coverage had lapsed and her appeal was denied. Oshi is still paying off more than $4000 in medical bills from her hospital stay.

Stories like Oshi’s are the reason we drafted HB2632. Sponsored by Representative Walter Blackman, the bill would prevent former foster youth from having to deal with red tape to keep their health coverage.

We are pleased to say that not only has the bill passed unanimously through the Arizona House of Representatives, AHCCCS has also agreed to make the requested changes administratively. We know this will make a world of difference for former foster youth across Arizona.

To learn more about policy priorities identified by FAAZ this session, click here.

And to thank Representative Blackman for sponsoring this legislation, email here.

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