March 26, 2020

Coronavirus Crisis and Florida's Urgent Need to Expand Medicaid

This post was last updated on September 29, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

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 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.

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