Glitches delay Medicaid enrollment for former foster kids in Oklahoma

by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: August 25, 2014 at 4:00 am •  Published: August 25, 2014
Advertisement
;

April Merrill has lost track of the number of phone calls she has made, trying to get young people signed up for Medicaid.

There was the young man who had a painful abscess in his mouth and was having trouble communicating at work.

There was the young woman who could no longer afford her mental health medication after she no longer had Medicaid coverage.

An estimated 2,300 former foster youth — these two examples included — are now eligible to remain on the state’s Medicaid program until age 26.

Some advocates are worried, however, that not enough former foster children are being enrolled into the program.

That change in eligibility is thanks to a provision of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, that expanded the Medicaid program to allow young people who were in foster care when they turned 18 to remain on the state health insurance coverage plan until age 26.

The change went into effect Jan. 1 of this year.

Since that time only a fraction of Oklahoma’s former foster care youth have been enrolled in Oklahoma’s Medicaid program. Merrill and other advocates say computer glitches have caused many applicants to be denied.

Like the woman who could no longer afford her medicine. Without her medication, she was having thoughts of harming herself, Merrill said.

“At one point, she called me and said she was scared of what would happen if she didn’t get health care soon,” said Merrill, lead attorney for the medical-legal partnership initiative at Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma.

During the past eight months, coding issues between state agency systems have caused some eligible foster care youth to be denied when they apply.

Although agency officials say the system’s glitches are worked out, Merrill and other advocates have voiced frustration with the process.

“I still have kids who are being denied,” Merrill said. “If they fixed the entire problem, how is it possible that I still have kids being denied?”

‘Interim procedure’

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the state’s Medicaid agency, and the state Department of Human Services have worked together to implement the eligibility changes.

Katelynn Burns, a DHS spokeswoman, said there have been some initial challenges to the implementation of the online application process.

“DHS and Oklahoma Health Care Authority have been working together to resolve the problems,” Burns said. “An interim procedure has been established. Once DHS child welfare services has been advised that an eligible youth has been denied, an email is forwarded to Oklahoma Health Care Authority. The issue has usually been resolved within 24 hours.”

Continue reading this story on the...

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
+ show more


I still have kids who are being denied. If they fixed the entire problem, how is it possible that I still have kids being denied?”

April Merrill,
Lead attorney for the medical-legal partnership initiative at Legal Aid Services

of Oklahoma

Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Thunder No. 7 in ESPN's 'Ultimate Team Rankings'
  2. 2
    This Might Explain Why Diet Soda Drinkers Are Often Overweight
  3. 3
    PHOTO: Kevin Durant is ready for the Washington Nationals' playoff run
  4. 4
    Former Rangers manager Ron Washington: 'Not true to my wife'
  5. 5
    ‘Grey's Anatomy’ Cast Gets Prison Mean for ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Parody Photo
+ show more