Health care advocacy groups continue to call on Gov. Ron DeSantis to put the brakes on Florida’s Medicaid redetermination process and to reinstate children who have been disenrolled from the health care safety net program due to procedural reasons.
DeSantis received a letter Tuesday signed by 50 organizations requesting the Governor to take a closer look at the state’s unwinding process and to streamline it to make it easier for people to reenroll in the safety net program for the poor, elderly and disabled. The advocacy groups have also called on the DeSantis administration to take advantage of increased federal flexibilities offered by the Joe Biden administration.
“So far, the state has not opted for any of the increased flexibilities offered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that would help to reduce dis-enrollments of eligible kids and families,” said Sadaf Knight, CEO of Florida Policy Institute, per a prepared statement.
“We strongly urge Gov. DeSantis to implement common-sense recommendations that would preserve coverage for Florida children and adults and ensure they have access to life-saving medications.”
Federal data show Florida ranked 45th in both call center wait times and abandonment rates. Lawmakers allocated $3.3 million in state funds to the Department of Children and Families in the Fiscal Year 2023-24 budget. But according to reports, it has not been spent.
Meanwhile, a House Democratic office analysis of Medicaid data shows that over 250,000 individuals in Florida aged 0 to 20 have been disenrolled from Medicaid since federal “continuous coverage” protections ended in April, and as of September 2023, Florida KidCare enrollment has only increased by 14,267.
Florida Health Justice Project lawyer Lynne Hearn said the state should take steps to avoid more children losing coverage during the unwinding. Hearn and others want the state to provide 12 months of continuous coverage for all children currently being redetermined for health insurance and to temporarily waive premiums for those newly enrolling in Florida KidCare.
Moreover, they are asking the state to be more transparent in their Medicaid unwinding and to develop a public-facing dashboard that shows enrollments and disenrollment by age group.
Florida currently has more than 5 million people on Medicaid, the state-federal funded safety net health care program. But Republicans in the Legislature, along with DeSantis and former Gov. Rick Scott, have resisted expanding Medicaid to the extent allowed under Obamacare.
Medicaid expansion hasn’t been seriously considered during DeSantis’ five years in office. Democrats have consistently criticized Florida Republicans for opposing Medicaid expansion.
But Florida Politics reported last week that Rep. Joel Rudman, a leading House Republican and ally of DeSantis, is supporting Medicaid expansion in Florida.