Don’t expect a ruling on children’s health insurance dust-up until May
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 3/7/24-House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, listens to farewell remarks from Rep. Chuck Clemons, Sr., R-Newberry, Thursday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

U.S. District Judge and Donald Trump appointee William Jung is presiding over the challenge.

A federal Judge won’t rule until at least May on Florida’s lawsuit against the federal government that challenges rules associated with the state’s subsidized children’s health insurance program.

Court records show that U.S. District Judge William Jung, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, held an hour-and-a-half hearing in Tampa where he directed both sides to prepare potential orders by the end of the month.

Florida is challenging a new requirement that children must remain continuously enrolled for up to 12 months even if they cannot pay the monthly premiums. Federal authorities contend that the requirement was enacted by Congress, but the Gov. Ron DeSantis administration asserts that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is incorrect.

The legal dust-up has resulted in Florida putting on hold plans to expand eligibility in Florida KidCare to families making up to 300% of the federal poverty limit. Florida contends in its lawsuit that the entire KidCare program — including the expansion — is at risk if the continuous enrollment requirement remains in place.

The hearing happened amid news that since January, Florida has dropped more than 22,000 children from KidCare.

Democrats on Thursday ripped into Florida for its actions and said DeSantis and his administration were violating federal law.

“Florida is the only state in the country that is brazenly disregarding the new federal protection for children,” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor. “I have been contacted by parents whose sick children have been dropped from KidCare and can’t receive the timely health services they need. This should not be happening.”

State officials — including Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Jason Weida — defended their moves online and pointed at the Joe Biden administration.

Florida KidCare is an optional Medicaid expansion program for children aged 5-18 whose families earn too much to qualify for the traditional Medicaid program. Congress set up the program in 1997 and agreed to pay states roughly 15 percentage points more than the traditional Medicaid match rate. The Florida Legislature agreed to pass the optional Medicaid expansion a year later, and the federal government pays about 69 cents of every dollar spent on the program.

Unlike traditional Medicaid, which is free for enrollees, state law requires Florida KidCare enrollees to pay a small monthly premium.

The change in federal policy, included in the 2023 federal budget, comes after the Legislature agreed, for the first time since the Florida KidCare was launched, to expand income eligibility to qualify children living in families earning 300% of the federal poverty level.

The expansion was pushed by House Speaker Paul Renner, who said he supported the change because it enabled parents with children currently on the program to accept higher-paying jobs without jeopardizing their children’s coverage.

Renner reiterated his support of the Florida KidCare eligibility on social media Wednesday and criticized the changes.

Renner said on X that Biden was “playing games with children’s healthcare, undermining KidCare — a program intended to provide parents an on-ramp to self-sufficiency — and hijacking it by turning it into a program that encourages full dependency on the government and costs every taxpayer.”

Castor, however, said “the Governor and his administration are trying to twist the narrative but don’t believe them: they are violating the law and harming children and families.”

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.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704