Children in foster care are one of the nation’s most vulnerable populations. These children, who often have a complex array of physical and behavioral health needs, are often served by multiple public systems, including behavioral health, child welfare, education, juvenile justice, and primary care. This puts them at risk for fragmented and uncoordinated care. Most children in foster care are eligible for Medicaid by virtue of their foster care status. However, these children often experience gaps in coverage when they are reunited with their families due to the complex procedures for keeping them enrolled in coverage.
Continuous eligibility for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) guarantees stable coverage for up to 12 months, thereby reducing “churn” and ensuring that children have consistent access to needed health care services that can improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs. Additionally, continuous eligibility benefits the state by saving staff resources and reducing administrative costs associated with unnecessary reprocessing of applications. This brief highlights how states can ensure better continuity of care for children in foster care by implementing continuous eligibility for Medicaid and CHIP coverage.