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October 31, 2018


The Support for Patients and Communities Act, a new law addressing the nation’s opioid crisis, includes provisions to protect Medicaid coverage for incarcerated juveniles. P.L. 115-271 (H.R. 6), signed Oct. 24 by President Trump, prohibits a state from terminating eligibility for Medicaid coverage for an eligible juvenile when the juvenile is an inmate of a public institution. The state is allowed, however, to suspend coverage during the period of incarceration. Prior to the juvenile’s release, the state will conduct a redetermination of eligibility and, if the juvenile is determined to be eligible, will restore Medicaid coverage. “The At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act will keep young American Medicaid recipients from being permanently kicked off their health care if they come into contact with the criminal justice system,” said Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), who sponsored the provisions as a separate bill with Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.). Cárdenas pointed out that “these young people suffer greatly when they return home to find they can no longer see their doctor, especially if they are recovering from addiction.” The new law also requires states to ensure that former foster youth are able to keep their Medicaid coverage across states lines until the age of 26. The ABA supports Medicaid and the shared legal obligation that the federal and state governments have to provide comprehensive benefits to all individuals who meet eligibility criteria. The association, in previous correspondence to Congress during debate on the Affordable Care Act, emphasized that Medicaid is a “lifeline” for millions of low-income seniors, children and parents in the United States who cannot otherwise afford quality health care, including preventative care.