Blue Cross NC forms initiative to aid youths aging out of foster care – Winston-Salem Journal

A housing funding initiative to aid youths leaving foster care is a first fruit of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of N.C.’s Medicaid managed care plan.

Healthy Blue, which debuted in July, is collaborating with SaySo on the initiative that will provide eligible youths with deposits, short-term or partial rental assistance, rental and utility arrears, and in acquiring essential furniture.

SaySo is a statewide association, part of Children’s Home Society of NC for youths ages 14 to 24 who are or have been in the out-of-home care system. This includes all types of substitute care, including foster care, group homes and mental health placements.

Children’s Home Society said there are more than 12,000 children in foster care in the state, with more than 450 aging out each year,

The nonprofits said that about 20% of North Carolinians in foster care “become instantly homeless” after reaching their 18th birthday.

“Every year, hundreds of youth age out of North Carolina’s foster care system, and too often, fall through the cracks of the system,” Jesse Thomas, Healthy Blue’s chief executive, said in a statement.

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“Funding this program is critical to supporting the health and well-being of these young adults and ensuring they have the resources and tools needed to thrive and successfully transition into independent adulthood.”

The Flex Fund will be administered by SaySo’s Young Adult Leadership Council, which will develop an application for youth in need of housing support.

The application will include basic housing request information, such as applicant demographics, type and amount of assistance being requested, date needed and other documentation that may be required to support the request, such as a W-9 form or invoice.

Applicants will provide information to assure that the funding is being used for housing, that there is a mechanism to maintain housing, that they are connected to additional programming and resources, and that the young person has a support system.

For more information, call (800) 632-1400 or go to www.chsnc.org.

SaySo began in 1998. It currently has 29 local chapters across North Carolina and a membership of more than 750 young adults in foster care and alumni.

The state’s Medicaid Managed Care program covers 1.7 million North Carolinians.

The four statewide participating insurers were awarded a three-year contract that are projected to be worth a combined $6 billion a year. With two optional one-year extensions, a health contract could be worth a total of $30 billion. 

DHHS announced in February 2019 that it had chosen physician health plans from Centene (operating as WellCare of N.C.), AmeriHealth Caritas N.C., Healthy Blue and UnitedHealth Group.

Background

A key selling point for the Medicaid transformation initiative is focusing on a patient’s overall health for those experiencing mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability issues.

Five years’ worth of often-controversial public health and legislative debate culminated July 3, 2020, when Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper signed Republican-sponsored legislation that provided pivotal start-up money.

Managed care is a system under which people agree to see only certain doctors or go to certain hospitals, as in a health maintenance organization, or HMO, or a preferred provider organization, or PPO, health-insurance plan.

Under the current Medicaid system, providers are paid on a fee-for-service model administered by DHHS.

By contrast, the physician plans will pay health care providers a set amount per month for each patient’s costs. There will be a limited number of special-needs individuals who will remain with fee-for-service providers.

DHHS reimburses the physician plans.

Blue Cross has said it plans to create 500 jobs for its portion of the transformation.

Centene has committed to creating an East Coast regional headquarters and technology hub in Charlotte with an estimated 6,000 jobs and $1.03 billion capital investment.

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