Give foster youth full access to Affordable Care Act

Anyone working with youth who may be aging out of care should be supportive on this issue as it greatly concerns health care being available to youth aging out of the system:
 
By REP. KAREN BASS and REP. JIM MCDERMOTT | 3/19/13 9:51 PM  EDT
Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) serve as  co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth.

This month marks the third anniversary since the Affordable Care Act was  signed into law by President Barack Obama. Despite the ongoing partisan rancor  surrounding the bill’s implementation, there is at least one provision Congress  should be able to find common ground around: making sure we protect the ability  of young adults to remain on their parents’ health care plans until they reach  age 26. Millions of young adults already are benefiting from this provision as  they work to get themselves established either through continuing their  educations or landing a job.

But when it comes to the thousands of foster youth who age out of the  foster-care system each year, the guarantee of affordable health insurance until  they are able to get on their feet with gainful employment could be in jeopardy  if the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid doesn’t take the broadest  interpretation of the law and ensure all states cover former foster youth until  age 26.

Almost 30,000 young people age out of foster care every year,  having never been adopted or reunified with their birth parents. The fact that  they age out is our failure as a government, and we should not compound that  problem by inadvertently denying them access to the same health care  opportunities as any other young adult would receive under the Affordable Care  Act.

Foster youth who age out are statistically more likely to experience  homelessness and incarceration and to lack health care. They face higher rates  of physical and mental health challenges, sometimes due in part to trauma early  in life. These facts make it all the more important that we guarantee all  eligible foster-care alumni access to quality health coverage.

Foster youth shouldn’t be treated any differently as they transition from the  foster-care system into adulthood — but if we aren’t careful, that’s exactly  what could happen.

The CMS proposed regulation requires states to enroll eligible foster youth  in Medicaid to age 26 only if they remain living in the state where they were in  foster care and enrolled in Medicaid. Although the draft regulation provides  states with the option of extending Medicaid to youth who move to their state,  it does not require it. That may leave foster youth in limbo when it comes to  their ability to access these benefits under the Affordable Care Act.

While CMS should be applauded for striving to achieve health parity for  foster youth, requiring those youth to remain living in the state where they  were in foster care presents an unnecessary burden on the backs of those already  carrying the heaviest load.

No residency requirement exists for the young people who receive health  coverage through their parents’ plans and no such requirement should exist for  foster youth. That was Congress’s intent, and we must do everything to ensure  this mission is carried out.

As written, this regulation could limit youth from seeking a variety of  opportunities, including a college education, a new job and living closer to  family members.

Especially in states within close proximity, such as the  Washington-Maryland-Virginia area, it is very likely that young foster care  alumni could move to nearby states. Former foster youth, many who have unique  physical and mental health needs, should not be forced to choose between health  care and moving to a new state with promising educational, economic or social  opportunity.

Already, allowing young adults to receive coverage through their parents’ plans to age 26 has allowed for more than 3 million young people to have health  care coverage while they pursue their dreams and get on their feet. Foster youth  deserve the same opportunities, particularly given all that they must overcome  in reaching their full potential.

To achieve true parity for foster youth, CMS will need to clarify the  congressional intent of this specific provision by issuing a final rule that  ensures states provide Medicaid benefits to age 26 for all eligible foster youth  residing within a state at any time, regardless of whether they grew up in that  state’s foster-care system or recently moved to the state.

Doing so gives foster youth the same flexibility with their health care  choices as any other young adult.

Congress and foster youth advocates should strongly urge the Department of  Health and Human Services to issue a final rule that protects foster youth and  provides them with the very same opportunities Congress intended to give all  young adults when it passed the Affordable Care Act.

 

 

After years of separation, 32-year-old man to be adopted

This story on CNN.COM impacted me quite a bit as I read it. I know how he felt over those years of separation from the family he wanted so much.

Unless you have experienced you do not know the impact such as his experience can impact you.

I was in care from the day of my birth until I aged out at 18. During those years I was moved 15 times. Three of those times was being returned to one particular family for periods of 6 months, 2 years & 4 1/2 years. This family attempted to adopt me each time I was placed with them. First they were denied because it felt their being in their 40s was too old. Second, their bio son & his wife attemoted to adopt but were denied because he was Catholic & she Lutheran ( was was with Cathoilic Chairities). The parents attemoted to then adopted me when placed with them for 4 plus years but were denied with no reason ever given. A few weeks later I was removed from them for the final time.

Despite being moved the final time I continued to stay in contact with them and always considered them Mom & Dad no matter what the system said. Dad died in 1975 and Mom in 1983.

I always yearned for a family I could call my own but it was never to be, however all these years later I still call them my Mom & Dad.

 

Here is the story from CNN.COM:

 

(CNN) — A boyhood wish is finally about to come true. But Maurice Griffin had to wait until he was a man for it to happen.

At age 32, the California man is about to be adopted.

“It has to happen,” Griffin said. “I didn’t fight for all those years for no reason.”

Adopting the burly, muscular, mohawk-sporting man is Lisa Godbold, his one-time foster mother.

“I just feel like this makes it official,” Godbold said. “And we don’t have to keep explaining it now.”

Good time

The story dates to the early 1980s, when Godbold and her husband saw Griffin at an orphanage near their Sacramento home. The smiling child seemed to fit perfectly with their family.

“Interracial relationships weren’t as common or accepted as they are today and the fact that Maurice was biracial. And we were a biracial family made us a great profile. So to speak,” Godbold said.

In addition, Griffin got along well with the couple’s other children, two boys younger than him.

“We were best friends,” Griffin said. “We’d run around, we did mischievous things and fun things. It was a good time.”

The good time lasted for years — until Griffin was 13 — and was two months away from being officially adopted by the family.

Family ripped apart

One day, foster care officials took Griffin away, saying he could not live with Godbold’s family anymore.

The whole issue came from a dispute over whether they could spank him, according to Godbold.

“You can’t spank foster children. Maurice very much wanted that,” Godbold said. “We wanted him to feel like the rest of our kids. And there was a difference of opinion with some of the (child welfare) supervisors.”

Godbold said she fought to keep Griffin and was told she could lose her biological children.

CNN contacted the state agency responsible for the case, but its officials would not comment because it’s still considered a juvenile case.

So she had to let go. And as time moved on Griffin, says he lost touch with what he felt was his only family.

“It was just an emptiness,” he said. “I couldn’t talk to anybody about it because nobody was there. I couldn’t call somebody; there was just a void in me.”

Searching for each other

Despite several obstacles, they never stopped searching for one another.

Godbold’s husband died in 1998. She remarried and changed her last name, and moved. Griffin bounced from one foster home to another, never finding what he lost.

“I didn’t let anybody get close to me again,” Griffin said, holding back tears. “I hurt a lot of people. It was a rough road.”

But six years ago, Godbold found Griffin on social media. They communicated online and then one day she called him.

“She said, ‘hey baby,’ and I said I got to call you back,” Griffin said, trying to explain how overwhelmed he was by the reunion.

And now the two are heading to a San Diego courtroom Friday, to put their family back together.

A juvenile court.

What is Foster Care Like?

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I don’t think I need say anymore!Click on photo to get the full picture and words.