State expands Medicaid coverage for youth aging out of foster care

Louisiana is expanding Medicaid health insurance coverage to more adolescents aging out of the state’s foster care system.

The state health agency has written rules that go into effect Tuesday. A change was required under the federal health care revamp.

“This action is being taken to avoid federal sanctions and to promote health and well-being of individuals in foster care by maintaining their access to health care services after they have aged out of the foster care system,” the notice states.

Currently, the Medicaid coverage extends to youth between the ages of 18 and 21 who are transitioning out of foster care homes to self-sufficiency. Foster care ends when youth reaches age 18.

Because of the federal Affordable Care Act, the state will expand Medicaid coverage to those youth up to age 26.

The state estimates Medicaid program expenditures for the health care coverage will increase by $131,778 during the current fiscal year that ends June 30 because of the change. The state notice does not indicate how many new individuals would get coverage.

The rule states that Medicaid eligibility would continue until the youth reaches age 26 unless the youth moves out of state, requests closure of the case, is incarcerated or dies.

The Medicaid program change is one of several being adopted on an emergency basis because of provisions of the federal health law revamp.

Also going into effect Tuesday is a change in the state Children’s Health Insurance Program that will provide prenatal care services to women with income between 133 percent and 209 percent of the federal poverty level.

Previously, the program provided prenatal service coverage to low-income, noncitizen women. Now it will include Medicaid coverage for unborn children of all citizen and non-citizen pregnant women who meet the income guidelines.

The Jindal administration had planned for pregnant women who are U.S. citizens to get insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

But the agency discovered that a potential problem could crop up for women who do not sign up through the exchange by the open enrollment deadline and then become pregnant.

The administration stated it would rescind a decision that would have left some poor women who become pregnant after Jan. 1 without prenatal care.

DHH estimated there are 2,626 women who would have been impacted by the original plan but who now will be covered through a state program.

Under the solution, DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert said the women would be covered through a part of Louisiana’s Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Once the women have the baby, they would be eligible for insurance through the federal health insurance exchange.

Inclusion of the women in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program will increase expenditures by an estimated $11.5 million during the current fiscal year.