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Coronavirus in Florida

More lawmakers ask Ron DeSantis for Medicaid, unemployment expansion amid coronavirus outbreak

The lawmakers say the move is a public health necessity.

Additional lawmakers are petitioning Gov. Ron DeSantis to increase access to health care for Floridians and to temporarily suspend evictions and foreclosures because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Democratic Sens. Lori Berman and Janet Cruz are asking the governor to expand Medicaid to cover adults up to 65 years of age who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line and to stop removing people from the Medicaid and Florida KidCare programs. They also want DeSantis to offer tax credits to businesses that provide paid sick leave to their employees, suspend evictions and foreclosures and expand and speed up access to unemployment assistance.  

“The expansion of Medicaid will not only protect public health and lead to greater access and utilization of health care services, but it will also positively impact the state’s budget and revenue,” the senators wrote. “It is a policy long overlooked by Florida’s leadership, but in the face of this pandemic, it is exceedingly necessary.”

House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee has asked the Governor to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income Floridians whose incomes are under 100% of the federal poverty level. He says those people are caught in the “coverage gap” between Florida Medicaid eligibility and getting subsidized coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. 

“There are people out here who no longer have access to healthcare due to them being laid off because of the coronavirus,” he said.

Rep. Shevrin Jones, a West Park Democrat, called on DeSantis earlier this week to temporarily pause evictions and utility shutdowns. Now, he’s asking for those mortgage and rent payments to be suspended for 90 days, along with all late fees and other penalties for nonpayment.

“Gov. DeSantis has the power to deliver financial relief for Floridians via executive order and should take decisive action quickly, just as other Governors across the country have done. I encourage the Governor to direct all state agencies to suspend fee collection for 90 days,” Jones said.

The Economic Policy Institute estimates that Florida could lose more than 350,000 jobs in leisure, hospitality and retail by the end of the summer.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed banks to waive mortgage payments for 90 days for those facing financial hardship with no negative effect to the borrower’s credit score.

DeSantis has still not enacted a statewide eviction moratorium, though he said Thursday he was considering such a move.

But following Jones’ request, those evictions were halted in Jones’ home county of Broward courtesy of a judicial mandate. Other counties, such as Miami-Dade and Orange, had already suspended evictions for residents due to late rent payments.

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Florida Politics reporter Ryan Nicol contributed to this story.

Written By

Sarah Mueller has extensive experience covering public policy. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010. She began her career covering local government in Texas, Georgia and Colorado. She returned to school in 2016 to earn a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting. Since then, she’s worked in public radio covering state politics in Illinois, Florida and Delaware. If you'd like to contact her, send an email to sarah@floridapolitics.com.

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