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Florida’s Rate of Uninsured Children Could Rise If Leaders Don’t Act to Protect Coverage

Children made up 48.2% of Florida's total Medicaid enrollment growth during the pandemic – significant health coverage disruptions could lie ahead. 

Photo: Rodnae Productions via Pexels  |   Columbia County Observer graphic

ORLANDO, FL – Florida's Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) proved to be a critical lifeline for more than 65.7% of the state's children during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families at the McCourt School of Public Policy.

Link to Georgetown reportThe report examines state-by-state growth in Medicaid and CHIP enrollment during the pandemic. It explains that millions of children still eligible for Medicaid or CHIP are at risk of losing coverage when pandemic protections begin to go away on April 1.

By law, adults and kids in Medicaid and CHIP health insurance have kept their coverage since March 2020.

The report finds that enrollment in Florida's Medicaid and CHIP programs grew by 32.6% from February 2020 to August 2022. Florida’s children outpaced the nation making up 48.2% of this growth — much higher than the 32% growth nationally.

Nationally, the report finds that 54% of all children are covered through Medicaid or CHIP. Florida is among the five states (excluding the District of Columbia) with the highest percentage of children covered through Medicaid or CHIP (65.7%).

Thirty states and the District of Columbia have at least half of their children insured through Medicaid or CHIP. Nationwide, an estimated 72% of children losing Medicaid will remain eligible, and Latino and Black children are at greater risk of inappropriately losing coverage.

Florida Policy Institute believes nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our kids. Florida needs a robust outreach campaign to raise awareness about the end of federal continuous coverage provisions and ensure that children, who remain eligible for CHIP, do not slip through the cracks and lose health care coverage.

Florida Policy Institute will work with the Department of Children and Families and our healthcare partners to ensure that Medicaid-eligible children are successfully redetermined and that families who are no longer eligible are connected with state and local resources to help them access health insurance.

Scott Darius, executive director of Florida Voices for Health, said, "For kids, disruptions in health coverage can lead to disruptions in education and have a lasting impact on Florida as a whole."

While states resume regular Medicaid renewal processes, the recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act phases down the enhanced federal Medicaid funding for states through 2023. Florida has until May 2024 to complete the unprecedented task of conducting Medicaid eligibility checks for most people enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, including more than 2.9 million children.

For the past three years, federal continuous coverage protections have shielded Florida's families from administrative red tape and bureaucratic snafus that have historically led to thousands of children falling on and off coverage throughout the year.

Sadaf Knight  has over 13 years of experience in public policy research, advocacy and nonprofit management. She is CEO of Florida Policy Institute

Florida Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing state policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians.

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