Dear President Trump,
I am a poor, white, educated woman who grew up in our nation’s foster care system. You may not know much about foster care since you were born into a great family.
When you were a candidate, I often listened to you describe how wonderful your parents were, and I’m glad you had that experience. I’m also happy to see that you have passed on what you have learned from your parents down to your children, who will no doubt do the same for their families.
President Trump, I’m reaching out to you to see if you’ll consider a provision in your repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare. I heard you talk about keeping the part about letting children stay on their parent’s plan until age 26. I hope that if you do that, you will also allow Medicaid to continue coverage for former foster children who, through no fault of their own, weren’t born to parents like yours.
When an abused and/or neglected child enters foster care, that child is a ward of the state. At that point, these children become, in a sense, America’s children.
Because it’s cheaper, most insured parents with a dependent coverage option support their children’s health and well-being until age 26. Former foster children do not have this same luxury. Unless their employer offers insurance, former foster youth have no one else but the government to continue to provide health care for them.
Young adults who emancipated from the foster care system understandably have many more health problems to deal with than the general population that will be covered until age 26. Eliminating health coverage for emancipated youth is not only cruel; this portion of the repeal can cause more problems for taxpayers down the road.
Due to their early trauma and instability of foster care placements, a lot of foster youth experience developmental delays that will not disappear the moment they become legal adults. Also, this population is more susceptible to mental health issues given their upbringing.
Obamacare not only extended health coverage through 26 for dependents. It also guaranteed Medicaid coverage through age 26 for any child who “aged out” of foster care, entering the adult world without the support of caring adults.
President Trump, in an interview with Bill O’Reilly you agreed with him that “the government can’t mandate good parents.” I agree, you can’t. But you have it within your power to ensure that former foster youth will not be further punished for circumstances beyond their control. I hope you’ll consider keeping Medicaid coverage for this population in your replacement plan. Thank you for your time in reading this letter.