Health insurance for children sees slowing in expansion

CHIP Health Insurance for Children

Health Insurance for ChildrenThe broadening of the medical coverage for kids in Florida may be stalling out.

Now that the legislative session in Florida is already a third complete, a bill that would work to shrink the health insurance coverage gaps for children in the state has been passed only one committee and looks as though it will not completely pass.

The bill is designed to help to cover children who have lost other forms of medical coverage.

Rep. Gayle Harrell (R-Stewart) presented the HB 689 proposal that was designed to help kids to maintain health insurance coverage when they are between plans, such as when a parent has lost a job or who is otherwise unable to continue to pay for the policy. The Florida KidCare would allow a child to be enrolled and receive federal-state coverage at a low cost.

The bill would allow a child to continue receiving health insurance for medical treatment for a set period.

This period would be until a final decision for eligibility could be made for the low cost health insurance coverage and would typically be up to 45 days long. According to the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation executive director, Rich Robleto, “Most of them do end up getting the coverage in the long run,” but added that “This would just expedite it … It’s the kind of administrative simplification that KidCare is always looking for.”

Robleto’s organization includes KidCare. At the moment, no provision is in place within the Florida law to automatically presume that a child is eligible during the period that his or her application is being considered. However, if a family is has already qualified for other programs, such as the Women Infants and Children (WIC) program, food stamps, or Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), then the kids in those families would be assumed to be eligible for the KidCare health insurance coverage, as well.

Children’s health insurance services lobbyist, Sam Bell, a former lawmaker, stated that “This is a very important step to reaching more children — and often the most vulnerable children.” Harrell is the chair of the Healthy Families Committee, which gave its unanimous approval for the bill on March 11. However, the bill must now pass two more committees. Senator Nancy Detert (R-Venice) had proposed a Senate companion bill (SB 548), which has three committee references and has not yet been heard.

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