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Congresswoman Karen Bass

Representing the 37th District of California

House Passes Rep. Bass Measure to Ensure Health Coverage For Foster Youth Until Age 26

June 22, 2018
Press Release
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act of 2018, which included legislation drafted by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) to clarify that states do not have the option to deny health coverage to former foster youth who aged out of the foster care system in a different state. You can watch her remarks regarding her bill below.

Full Remarks:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this bill and the foster youth who will benefit from its passage.

One of the most popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act allows young adults to stay on their parent’s health insurance until they turn 26.

It’s only fair that young adults who age out of foster care should keep their coverage until they turn 26, too.

But when ACA was implemented, the Department of Health and Human Services gave states the option of covering young adults who aged out of the foster care system in a different state.

For example, if a young adult aged out of the system with coverage in California, but then moved to New York, New York would have the option to cover them under Medicaid until they turn 26 – or not.

This extended coverage was never supposed to be optional.

After all, former foster youth should have every opportunity to move freely without fear of losing life-saving health insurance.

That’s why I introduced the Health Insurance for Former Foster Youth Act.

Last month, more than 100 former foster youth were on the hill to shadow their Member of Congress. We celebrated that many of the young adults had been accepted into college, some out of state.

This bill will ensure that when former foster age out of the system, that they can keep their coverage until they’re 26 – no matter where they live.

This is about fairness. Former foster youth should be treated the same way we treat all young people.

I’m grateful to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for including my bill in this bipartisan opioid package.

Just this week, The Hill reported that states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic have seen the number of children in foster or state care increase dramatically.

Again, I thank my colleagues for working with me to clarify the law and I thank Chairman Walden and Ranking Member Pallone for your leadership on this issue.

I yield the remainder of my time.