Posts Tagged ‘ foster children ’

Former Foster Children Navigate New Health Care Rules

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

The new health care rules initially seemed to apply differently to children who were part of the foster care system past the age of 18, but provisions that are coming into effect next year will change that, enabling former foster kids to be covered the same way as other young adults.  More from CNN:

While many young adults are now covered by the Affordable Care Act, able to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26, the rules are different for those like [22-year-old Nathan] Cox-Reed, who grew up in the foster care system.

There are more than 400,000 children in foster care in the United States, the Department of Health and Human Services said last year. All are provided with health care coverage as long as they are wards of the state.

When foster kids turn 18, they age out of the system and instantly lose their coverage.

That’s about to change, when another part of Obamacare takes effect on January 1, 2014. Medicaid coverage will be extended for former foster youth until they reach 26, as long as the individual was in foster care and enrolled in Medicaid until the age of 18.

“I definitely think it would be a big relief, and I would definitely feel more secure as far as my health goes,” Cox-Reed said.

But there’s a catch. Cox-Reed has dreams of traveling across the nation and becoming a filmmaker. A future relocation could jeopardize his medical coverage.

States will only be required to keep former foster children on Medicaid if they continue to reside in the state where they were in foster care originally.

This part of the provision is “an incredibly troubling aspect,” said Washington attorney Brooke Lehmann, who founded the child and family advocacy group Childworks. Young adults can be highly mobile as they move for educational purposes, job opportunities and a host of other reasons, she said.

“You can’t be on a film set if you are uninsured,” Cox-Reed said. “You could get hurt. I definitely think [being uninsured] is limiting and it’s a letdown, because what if I do get a job out of state? I might not be able to take it.”

While “it’s a great provision,” said Joan Alker, co-executive director of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families and a professor at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, limiting extended Medicaid enrollment because of relocation could threaten the provision’s effectiveness.

Image: Teenager at doctor’s office, via Shutterstock

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Study: Foster Children Frequently Prescribed Antipsychotic Drugs

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Foster children are prescribed strong antipsychotic drugs at rates that are similar to the most mentally disabled young people on Medicaid, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found.  The study found that three drugs in particular–Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa–are often prescribed in tandem, not for their antipsychotic effects, but as “major tranquilizers.”

Researchers expressed alarm that the drugs are being used to treat “troubled kids” who do not have the severe mental health disorders that would legitimately warrant heavy use of the medications.  Two percent of foster children are given some form of medication, the study reports, a number that is significantly different from the average number of children who are given diagnoses of schizophrenia and severe bipolar disorder.

“We simply don’t have evidence to support this kind of use, especially in young children,” Susan dosReis, an associate professor in the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and the lead author, told The New York Times.

The Times reports that policy makers are taking action to stop this disturbing trend:

…The relatively high rates of these drug combinations in such a young and vulnerable group have prompted policy makers across the country to take notice. A consortium of 16 states, in collaboration with Rutgers University, has drawn up guidelines to improve care for foster children and others dependent on state aid.

“The psychiatrists who are treating these kids on the front lines are not doing it for money; there are very low reimbursement rates from Medicaid,” said Dr. Ramesh Raghavan, a mental health services researcher at Washington University in St. Louis. “There’s enormous anguish because everyone knows that this is not what we should be doing for these kids. We as a society simply haven’t made the investment in psychosocial treatments, and so we are forced to rely on psychotropic drugs to carry the burden.”

Image:  Pill bottle, via Shutterstock.

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