October 11, 2023

FL still has to determine whether more than two million people can keep their Medicaid coverage

Jackie Llanos writes:

"More than half a million Floridians have already lost Medicaid, and state agencies overseeing eligibility for the program say they still have to determine whether more than two million people will keep their coverage.

The Department of Children and Families and the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration have until March to decide how many of those two million are still eligible for Medicaid — health coverage for low-income families and individuals — after the continued coverage under the COVID-19 emergency ended earlier this year.

But after the state began disenrolling people in April, public health advocacy groups have criticized the coverage rate canceled over procedural reasons — not because they were ineligible.

The procedural cancelation rate in Florida is 55 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation tracker of nationwide data.

DCF’s Deputy Secretary Casey Penn flaunted that 55% rate as being one of the lowest in the nation during a Wednesday morning meeting on the Senate’s Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services.


More than 50 organizations disagree with Penn’s assessment of Florida’s unwinding of Medicaid. The Florida Policy Institute [emphasis added], Florida Voices for Health and other advocacy groups sent a letter Tuesday to Gov. Ron Desantis calling for the state to stop the process of reviewing eligibility and reinstate Medicaid coverage to children disenrolled for procedural reasons.

'There are several issues that are causing families and individuals to erroneously lose coverage: long call-center wait times, inadequate staffing at the DCF, inaccurate and difficult-to-understand language in administrative forms that families receive, and inappropriate use of household income to determine individual eligibility. This loss of health insurance coverage due to procedural errors and inefficiencies is unacceptable and preventable,' the groups wrote in the letter.


Sen. Gayle Harrell, who chairs the committee, inquired about the three million in reserve funds DCF has available to fund its call center. Penn said that the call center was fully staffed and a dedicated phone line for the Medicaid redetermination process had an average waiting time of five minutes. However, the DCF call center, which takes calls about Medicaid and other programs, has an average wait time of over 30 minutes, he said during the meeting.

Florida Policy Institute’s CEO Sadaf Knight [emphasis added] applauded the move to have a dedicated phone line but said in a press release after the meeting that the institute and its partners had not seen the new line publicized broadly.

'While we support the additional call center funding that DCF indicated they are requesting for fiscal year 2025, about $3 million is currently sitting in reserve from the Legislature to improve the call center for the current fiscal year,' Knight [emphasis added] said.' 'We urge them to request to draw that down so that improvements can be made in the immediate term.'"

Read more on floridaphoenix.com

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