Bill provides Medicaid for Nevada’s young adults |

Bill provides Medicaid for Nevada’s young adults

BEN KIECKHEFER, Associated Press

A Nevada Assembly panel was urged Monday to back a bill extending Medicaid coverage to foster children who lose the coverage at age 18 and can’t afford to pay for health care needs.

Assembly Majority Leader Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, asked the Ways and Means Committee to approve AB5, citing a study showing that young adults who are on their own often forego prescription drugs and other medicines.

State Division of Children and Family Services chief Ed Cotton told the committee that expanding the coverage would cost the state about $650,000 annually.

But Assemblyman David Goldwater, D-Las Vegas, said the impact would probably be much less. He said people 18 to 21 years old tend to be the healthiest group covered under Medicaid and wouldn’t burden the system.

A division analyst said the fiscal impact was determined using the average per-enrollee cost for coverage, which isn’t broken down by age group. Goldwater said he would work with DCFS to try and reach a more realistic fiscal analysis.

The committee also discussed AB25, allowing child welfare service agencies to enter into contracts with young adults who age out of foster care and begin attending a university, college or trade school.

The contracts couldn’t extend past the recipient’s 22nd birthday, and Cotton said the state would get no federal funding for any services offered after a person turns 21 years old.

Also considered was AB482, a proposal for long-term funding of child welfare integration. The proposal, part of the integration effort put together more than a year ago, swaps county spending for long-term care for state spending on child welfare.

Gov. Kenny Guinn, however, felt uncomfortable with the plan because of uncertainty about growth and changes in spending for both long-term care and child welfare.

In his budget proposal, Guinn funded integration by targeting specific dollars for child welfare services instead of the swap.

The committee didn’t act on any of the bills.