Florida to expand KidCare children’s health insurance but not Medicaid

Health insurance - Children's health care

State legislature is working to broaden eligibility for the kids’ coverage but not their uninsured parents.

Lawmakers in Florida are working to expand the eligibility for the KidCare children’s health insurance program, but advocates are pointing out that the state won’t be following in North Carolina’s footsteps, where there was recently a vote to broaden Medicaid’s reach to an estimated 600,000 North Carolinians.

It is unlikely that Florida will make similar changes to expand the availability of Medicaid in 2023, as has been the case in a number of Republican states recently, such as North Carolina. Still, Florida lawmakers are working to push through measures that they say will place coverage within reach of more kids in low-income families.

Health insurance - Children's health care

Around $76 million has been earmarked in Florida’s proposed budget for kids’ health insurance.

The budget proposed by the House in Florida includes $76 million designated to act as an incentive to pediatricians to treat kids on Medicaid. Moreover, a bill making its way through the legislature in the state will also increase the eligibility of families to receive subsidies for kids’ medical coverage programs.

That said, advocates are saying that the proposed steps are falling short of what Floridians need, particularly as the state starts its Medicaid membership purge, which ballooned to 1.8 million people during the pandemic, when state programs received additional funds to ensure people could keep the coverage.

Over 900,000 state residents are at risk of losing their Medicaid coverage during this time, said state data.

Advocates have argued that Florida should follow what other Republican states have done, such as in North Carolina, where Governor Roy Cooper signed legislation to broaden Medicaid health insurance coverage. It was passed by the state Legislature, which is Republican controlled, in a move that reversed years of opposition to the federal healthcare program expansions.

“Those North Carolina legislators really did the brave and correct and right thing,” said nonpartisan nonprofit Florida Policy Institute Chief Strategy and Development Officer Holly Bullard. “There’s no reason why Florida can’t too.”

That said, lawmakers in Florida say that they are trying to stop the dependence on such benefit programs.

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