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Bill Introduced to Ensure Access to Mental Health Care for Foster Care Children

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the Ensuring Medicaid Continuity for Children in Foster Care Act to allow foster children placed in QRTPs to continue to receive Medicaid. A current regulatory issue is causing many children placed in QRTPs to become automatically disqualified from receiving coverage under Medicaid.

Children in foster care are some of society’s most neglected and disadvantaged individuals. Some adolescents and children who have experienced severe trauma and require special help are put in Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTPs), which provide more structure and support than a foster family, including mental and behavioral health services.

  • “I believe every child should have the opportunities necessary to reach their full potential. The Ensuring Medicaid Continuity for Children in Foster Care Act is a crucial step towards providing some of the most vulnerable children in our society the assistance they require.” – Senator Rubio

  • “Foster care provides a safe and stable environment for children, many of whom are recovering from traumatic events,” said Senator Tillis. “However, children in foster care who require critically-important support and services oftentimes face unnecessary barriers in receiving care. This legislation will ensure these children can receive the necessary behavioral and mental health services when they need it and where they need it. Investing in the mental health and well-being of children in foster care will positively impact lives and improve outcomes for the next generation, and I’m glad to work with Senator Rubio to achieve these goals.” – Senator Tillis

Background:

  • In 1965, Congress passed the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Disease exclusion. The exclusion was never intended to prevent foster children from receiving needed mental and behavioral health services in high-quality facilities. Still, in 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ruled that this exclusion applied to foster children placed in QRTPs. This regulatory issue is automatically disqualifying children placed in QRTPs from receiving Medicaid.

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