October 27, 2017

Fate of Health Care Coverage for Florida Kids Relying on CHIP Remains Uncertain

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.

Congress allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program to expire last month

LAKE MARY, FL – The federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), created 20 years ago to cover uninsured children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but are unable to afford private insurance, is now almost one month past its sunset date.

Florida had the nation’s fourth largest CHIP-funded enrollment in fiscal year 2016, according to the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families (CCF). Along with Medicaid, CHIP has helped reduce the rate of uninsured children to an all-time low of 6.2 percent in Florida.

“Struggling families should not have to choose between taking their child to the doctor and putting food on the table,” said Joseph F. Pennisi, executive director of the Florida Policy Institute. “Every day that federal lawmakers fail to take action is another day of uncertainty for Florida families.”

As CCF points out in its latest report, “What Are the Consequences of Congressional Delay on CHIP?” states are quickly running out of funding for the program. Florida is slated to run out of funds at some point in January 2018, which would likely trigger coverage loss for 300,000 children currently enrolled in the Florida Healthy Kids and MediKids programs. The report, however, notes that family financial impacts from Hurricane Irma could deplete the state’s federal allotment even sooner.

Congressional inaction on the children’s health program will also have consequences for the state budget, as Florida is anticipating CHIP funding going into next year.

“Extending CHIP needs to be front and center on the U.S. House and Senate’s agenda,” added Pennisi.

The Florida Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting widespread prosperity through timely, thoughtful and objective analysis of state policy issues affecting economic opportunity.

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