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A little-known provision of the Affordable Care Act evens the healthcare playing field for foster kids

Rain clouds couldn’t spoil Kenisha Anthony’s afternoon as she emerged from the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables on Saturday with an associate degree in social work from Miami Dade College. The 22-year-old from Miami had survived the school of hard knocks that is Florida’s foster care system to reach this moment. Now a provision of the Affordable Care Act promises to help her make an even better start. Xl8a8.St.56

As of Jan. 1, Anthony and others who aged out of foster care became eligible for Medicaid until they turn 26, just as other young adults can stay on their parents’ health plans to that age as part of the ACA. But not all former foster children may know about this little-discussed Obamacare benefit, especially if they’re no longer in the system.

Anthony learned about it through a group called Florida Youth SHINE, a network of former foster children who are working to find and enroll this population.

“I found SHINE on the Internet and contacted them to join. They helped me deal with the technical issues of applying. Now I can go to the doctor,” Anthony said.

Nationally, about 26,000 young adults aged 18 to 22 are released from foster care each year to make it on their own, more than 50 percent with chronic health conditions or mental disorders, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew researchers estimated that 7,000 to 8,000 former foster youths in Florida could benefit from the Medicaid extension this year if they knew about it. Read more.

Photo by Al Diaz/Miami Herald staff

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