I know many conservatives don’t want to consider that the government we endow with our, the people’s power, have any obligation to those who give this power. We’re talking entitlements here.

I don’t like thinking anybody is entitled to anything. I grew up poor. But I find myself now among the entitled. So, forgive me this rant.

When children are taken from their parents by the state, we owe these children something.

I wish their parents had provided for them. But they didn’t. Believe me, the bar in Idaho is pretty high for a court to remand custody to the state.

In a recent Board of Health and Welfare meeting we heard some of the new Director’s solutions to our problem. He proposed rules to get more foster parents eligible to take in foster children. I fully support this step. He may see the problem as budget balance, but I see it bigger.

I hope you can too.

When a child is enrolled in foster care, they become eligible for Medicaid health insurance. The DHW does its best to get them enrolled and the benefits available.

Before we go on, ask yourself if you think a taxpayer benefit of health insurance to a child ward of the state is proper. Some may not.

Currently, in Idaho that eligibility for health insurance lapses when the foster child reaches the age of 26. Why?

The age of 26 limit was a decision by our federal government. It was a part of the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare. Just as the option to continue your own kids off in college on the family plan up to age 26, the foster kids got rolled into that negotiated limit. Remember, Obamacare was negotiated not with Republicans, but with the health insurance industry. I guess somebody thinks these wards should be out paying premiums by the age of 26. Maybe you do too.

Some states accept other states foster children into their Medicaid benefits, should they move here. Say the foster child leaves their Utah foster home at the age of 18 and moves to Idaho. They will not be eligible for benefits in Idaho. That is a choice our state has made.

I here propose that any child who has been awarded to state custody should have health insurance supported by the state for the rest of their lives.

The Idaho legislature has acknowledged there are significant Adverse Childhood Events, ACES. The impact of these events is lifelong. Children who experience childhood trauma carry this with them onward.

We, the people who have given the state the authority to retain custody when a parent cannot provide for their child, should see to the fostering of that child to the best of our ability.

Maybe you don’t think the state should intervene into this. I would welcome your thoughts. I could tell you some stories.

Indeed, at our IDHW Board meeting we heard some stories. Two people told how they had taken children into their families outside of the foster system. I suspect many Idaho families step up like this. Indeed, our family has.

So, I believe the kids that become “wards of the state” have very little resources. Shouldn’t we support them?

My proposal that Medicaid eligibility for foster children be lifelong is not without precedent.

When kidney failure could be treated with dialysis, Congress decided the diagnosis of “End Stage Renal Disease” would make the person eligible for Disability and Medicare health insurance.

Congress should roll up the age of Medicaid eligibility for foster children to the end of their life.

All people should have access to health care. But the children awarded to state custody deserve this, even if we can’t decide we all do.

About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
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