October 10, 2023

Florida Groups Urge State to Restore Medicaid Coverage for Eligible Children

Medicaid redetermination process continues to be plagued by inefficiencies, causing thousands to lose coverage for procedural reasons

FLORIDA - Fifty organizations today sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis renewing calls for the state to pause Florida’s Medicaid redetermination process, reinstate children who have been disenrolled for procedural reasons, and take additional steps to streamline the Medicaid “unwinding” process.

Recent data shows that over 250,000 youth in Florida aged 0 to 20 have been disenrolled from Medicaid since federal “continuous coverage” protections ended in April, and as of September 2023, Florida KidCare enrollment has only increased by 14,267.

Health care advocates — for the past year — have been sounding the alarm that a massive health care coverage loss event would coincide with the end of Medicaid continuous coverage protections, which ensured that children and adults were able to retain their benefits during the pandemic without having to re-enroll.

Sadaf Knight, CEO of Florida Policy Institute, said: “So far, the state has not opted for any of the increased flexibilities offered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that would help to reduce disenrollments of eligible kids and families. We strongly urge Gov. DeSantis to implement common-sense recommendations that would preserve coverage for Florida children and adults and ensure they have access to life-saving medications.”

Data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services backs up the stories shared by Floridians having difficulty getting through on the phone to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to get help with redeterminations. Recently-released data from June 2023 shows that there were over 2.2 million calls made to DCF, and 36 percent of them were abandoned.

As noted in the letter, of the 50 states that submitted data, Florida ranked 45th in both call center wait times and abandonment rates. Despite these persistent problems, it has been reported that the state has yet to use the $3.3 million allocated for improving the call centers in this fiscal year’s budget.

Lynn Hearn, senior attorney at Florida Health Justice Project, said: “Now that we are seeing hundreds of thousands of Floridians who are likely still eligible losing their Medicaid coverage, we hope that state officials will implement measures at their disposal to reinstate their coverage as well to prevent future avoidable coverage losses. Nobody should want their fellow Floridians, especially children, to go without healthcare coverage and treatment they are eligible to receive.”

The letter urges the state to implement the following recommendations:

  • provide 12 months of continuous coverage for all children currently being redetermined for health insurance and temporarily waive premiums for those newly enrolling in KidCare as Georgia has done.
  • immediately reinstate coverage for children who have been disenrolled for procedural reasons.
  • pause the redetermination process until DCF can successfully execute the goals outlined in its plan and as required by CMS.
  • increase transparency by creating a public-facing dashboard to be updated monthly with data on the redetermination process, disaggregated by age group.
  • implement changes to make the transition to alternative coverage smoother once the redetermination process resumes.

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