April 29, 2016

Cárdenas’ Medicaid Coverage Bill Generates National Support

WASHINGTON, DC – This week, during National Reentry Week, U.S. Representative Tony Cárdenas of California, along with U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia, reintroduced the At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act to ensure that children in the juvenile justice system do not lose access to their Medicaid coverage. Cárdenas’ work on ensuring children are able to maintain their health coverage was highlighted by the Department of Health and Human Service’s announcement yesterday providing guidance to States on facilitating access to Medicaid for eligible individuals returning home from a correctional institution. To date, the At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act has been lauded by multiple juvenile justice groups and endorsed by national organizations, to include:

  • American Psychological Association [Letter of Support]

  • Californians for Safety and Justice

  • Campaign for Youth Justice

  • Children’s Defense Fund

  • Common Sense Kids Action

  • Fight Crime: Invest in Kids [Letter of Support]
  • Justice Policy Institute

  • National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

  • National Disability Rights Network

  • National Juvenile Justice Network

  • National Foster Care Coalition

  • Robert F. Kennedy Juvenile Justice Collaborative

“Children who enter the ?‎juvenile justice system with Medicaid end up leaving without it because of a technical glitch. This glitch can be fixed. We can ensure that kids don’t get kicked off of Medicaid and that they receive a chance at the best possible life,” said Cárdenas. “This bill is needed to ensure that kids have access to the care that’s crucial for them to become productive members of society. Every day that we delay this bill is a day that more children go without the care they need.”

Many children in the juvenile justice system rely on Medicaid, but several states terminate their Medicaid enrollment automatically, causing serious gaps in coverage. It can take months for a child to have their coverage reinstated, forcing the child to go without much needed mental health or substance abuse treatment. U.S. Senators Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Cory Booker of New Jersey introduced a companion bill in the U.S. Senate. 

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