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Economists: state’s KidCare costs on the rise

Legislators will have to find more money for Florida KidCare next year

Florida’s children’s health insurance program will require tens of millions of dollars in extra state funding over the next several years, according to new estimates prepared by state economists.

A new forecast finalized on Monday shows that state legislators will need to set aside an extra $81 million in the next state budget to deal with increased enrollment and an expected end to extra federal funding that was part of the national health-care law pushed by former President Barack Obama.

Annual costs for the program will continue to rise over the next five years, requiring an increase of $162 million in state money by 2024, the economists predicted.

Florida KidCare is an umbrella program that covers children from birth to age 18 and includes a subsidized health-insurance program for school-aged children that relies on both federal and state funding.

Florida KidCare also includes Children’s Medical Service, a state-created program for children who have special health-care needs.

The federal program that helps pay for Florida KidCare has been reauthorized, but economists noted that the higher federal matching amount the state currently receives for children’s health insurance is scheduled to end in September 2020.

Enrollment also is projected to go up because of changes to the program that lower the monthly premium paid by families who don’t qualify for subsidized coverage.

Total Florida KidCare enrollment is expected to grow from 252,000 children this year to about 315,000 children by the summer of 2021.

The estimates show that state legislators have already set aside enough money to fully fund the program through the current fiscal year that ends on June 30, 2020.

But legislators will have to find more money for Florida KidCare when they craft a budget for the following fiscal year.

Work on that budget begins in January, when the 2020 Legislative Session begins. The news about Florida KidCare comes at a time when there are signs that the state’s economy is beginning to slow down.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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