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The Journal of the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at The George Washington University


The Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit mandates full coverage of healthcare for children enrolled in Medicaid. The EPSDT benefit provides the access, framework, resources, and financing for healthcare for children with complex healthcare needs. When fully implemented, the EPSDT benefit leads to improved health outcomes. This paper examines the EPSDT benefit as an essential healthcare resource for vulnerable children, notably children in foster care. The majority of children in foster care receive Medicaid healthcare coverage and have complex healthcare needs. According to the most recent research, many children in foster care are not receiving this mandated benefit. Improved implementation of the EPSDT benefit is key to improving health outcomes. This policy analysis reviews the EPSDT benefit, evidence for its effectiveness, issues challenging full implementation for children in foster care, examples of successful implementation, and provides recommendations for improved implementation. Specific recommendations include coordination of healthcare and child welfare services (e.g. with health services coordinators), increased accountability for implementers, and adequate numbers of qualified, trauma-informed providers.

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