More than two dozen state lawmakers on Friday released a letter urging federal officials to approve a measure meant to shore up support for foster care youth.
The lawmakers, led by Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, Sarah Clark and Taylor Darling, pressed for the passage of a bill that sponsors hope will provide continued Medicaid support and full implementation Family First Prevention Services Act.
At issue is how some residential foster care settings are being classified under federal law. As a result, thousands of children who placed in these settings may not be able to access federal support under the Medicaid program for their medical care.
"We strongly support and urge the Senate to pass the Ensuring Medicaid Continuity for Children in Foster Care Act of 2021, to provide continued eligibility for Federal Financial Participation in Medicaid and support continuity of medically necessary care for children and youth in foster care," the lawmakers wrote in the letter sent to U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
Last year, the Centers for Medicaid Services proposed waivers for states to stem the loss of the funding, but the move is considered only short term, and could result in the need to transition to a different kind of model that could reduce bed capacity in residential facilities.
Lawmakers also pointed to efforts in New York to provide medical services to foster care children while also moving to keep families together safely.
"New York State is fully committed to prioritizing prevention to keep families safely together, and to promote family foster care and kinship placements for children whenever possible," they wrote. "Since 2019, we have reduced the use of residential care by approximately 600 beds. New York has expanded use of new Medicaid mental health services such as community-based counseling, skill-building, and family peer services, while continuing to invest in prevention and increasing kinship placements."