The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the critical importance of making health care coverage affordable and accessible for everyone. Florida lawmakers must expand Medicaid now: denying health care to any Floridian jeopardizes the health and safety of all residents.
The Sunshine State has been woefully behind the rest of the nation in providing its residents coverage and access to care. Here are the facts:
- Florida has the fourth highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation (13 percent of Floridians).
- Florida has more than 800,000 uninsured adults who could be covered if the state expanded Medicaid up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
- Even before the pandemic, from 2014 to 2017, 2,776 Floridians died prematurely because Florida failed to expand Medicaid.
- Florida has made deep cuts to local county health departments, intended to be the state's frontline hubs for delivering care to the uninsured. Notably, between 2010-2018 Florida cut county health department funding 10 percent and funded positions shrunk from 12,800 to 9,300.
The state’s failure to expand Medicaid, combined with the slashing of public health resources, has left thousands of acutely vulnerable uninsured residents unable to access needed care. This disproportionately harms communities of color.
As Florida Health Justice Project has noted, “A virus as infectious as this one will not be bound by neighborhood, or by coverage status.” A server delivering food or a cashier collecting money while sick puts all customers at risk.
Time is of the essence. Florida leaders must take action to ensure the health and safety of Sunshine State residents.