January 15, 2019

District Court Ruling Must Be Overturned or Millions of Floridians Could Lose Health Care Coverage

This post was last updated on December 8, 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.

Last night’s ruling puts at risk the millions of people who use the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to access marketplace subsidies and get crucial health services, like pre-natal care or mental health services. Unless the appeals court reverses this decision, O’Connor’s ruling will end the support for insurance coverage that fueled the historic coverage gains achieved under the ACA.

If the decision is not reversed, we will be going backwards to a time when people with pre-existing conditions — like diabetes and asthma — could be denied coverage or face exorbitantly high rates. According to 2015 data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, there are more than 3.1 million nonelderly adults in Florida who have pre-existing conditions who are at risk.

Florida has seen a substantial drop in its rate of uninsured residents following the implementation of ACA’s coverage provisions. In 2010, 21.5 percent had no health care coverage; in 2017, 12.9 percent of residents remained insured. This reduction is primarily the result of the ACA’s health insurance coverage provisions, including marketplace subsidies.

Furthermore, this decision threatens Florida’s future ability to expand its Medicaid program to provide coverage to more than 600,000 uninsured low-income residents.

Florida is one of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit. We strongly urge state Attorney General-elect Ashley Moody to withdraw from the lawsuit, and we hope that this catastrophic ruling is reversed. In the meantime, it’s critical for Floridians to know that the ACA remains the law of the land and all of its benefits and consumer protections remain intact.

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