I have been encouraging child advocate leaders in each state to monitor and become involved in the work of their own state’s development of the new “health care exchanges”, which the Affordable Care Act requires of all states beginning 2014. Simultaneously, my work nationally with the Foster Family-based Treatment Association has included my participation as part of a national child advocacy coalition working with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as they study development of an Essential Benefits Package (EBP). We have advocated strongly for needs of foster youth to be addressed by CMS in the benefits package, including both biomedical health needs and behavioral health.
Friday Dec. 16, HHS published ‘guidance’ announcing a framework of benchmarks each state will be allowed to consider in developing their own EBP. This does not give the federal protections we were seeking with our efforts. Instead, it requires that child advocates must actively engage with legislative, state insurance department personnel, and Medicaid administering bodies with the focus of bringing representation for impoverished and/or custody youth into the discussions.
We will continue our work nationally. You are encouraged to identify those leaders in your state who have responsibility for establishing your state exchange and developing the Essential Benefits Package. That work is well underway now. Your investment of time and energy early in the New Year is encouraged.