Florida KidCare expansion passes House spending panel with bipartisan support

The House has also included $34M in its proposed budget to fund the expansion.

Florida could increase the number of children covered by Florida KidCare under a bill that is a top priority of House Speaker Paul Renner and is now a part of the House’s proposed budget.

The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously approved a bill (HB 121) that would raise the eligibility limits for KidCare from 200% of the federal poverty limit to 300% poverty limit, which translates into $90,000 for a family of four. It has one more stop before it heads to the full House.

“Working families are struggling in our state today,” said Rep. Dana Trabulsy, a Fort Pierce Republican. Trabulsy is one of the sponsors along with Democratic Rep. Robin Bartleman of Weston.

“They are struggling to make a decision whether they should take a pay raise in their job or whether they should provide health care to their children,” Trabulsy added.

The legislative push comes amid an expected huge transition as the COVID-19 public health emergency winds down and the state begins to disenroll ineligible people from Medicaid. Florida was required to keep people enrolled in the health care program while the state received enhanced funding from the federal government. But the state can start disenrolling Floridians next month.

One estimate projects there could be a 76% increase in children’s health insurance programs due to the changes.

Florida KidCare includes several different subsidized programs, including the state’s Healthy Kids program, which requires a small monthly premium and generally covers children from ages 5 to 18. But families lose access to subsidies once their family income exceeds 200% of the federal poverty limit. If they want to remain enrolled in Healthy Kids, the families must pay a $259 monthly premium.

The proposed House budget also includes $34 million — most of it enhanced federal funding — to cover the costs of the legislation.

Renner first championed the idea of changing eligibility limits for children’s health care during his opening day speech.

Bartleman on Wednesday emphasized that the legislation runs counter to the perception that Republicans and Democrats can’t work together.

“I just want to note this is a bipartisan bill,” Bartleman said. “I just want to say there’s always a lot of press about what goes on in this House. And this chamber cares about working families. That’s what this bill is about.”

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


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