June 8, 2017

Florida's Rural Children Rely on Medicaid [Public News Service]

This post was last updated on September 10, 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.

Veronica Carter of Public News Service writes: 

“A new report shows Medicaid plays a larger role in Florida’s small towns than it does in larger urban areas.

The report looked at all 50 states and found that in Florida, 57 percent of rural children are enrolled in Medicaid, compared to 44 percent in urban areas. Anne Swerlick, health policy analyst with the Florida Policy Institute [emphasis added], said the good news is, from 2008 to 2015, the number of uninsured kids dropped significantly, while Medicaid funding increased.

But under the GOP health care plan in Congress, she said Florida is set to lose $7 billion over the next ten years. It could mean many families won’t have health insurance – which would have a ripple effect in their communities.

‘They can’t see a doctor and they’re more likely to end up in emergency rooms and hospitals,’ Swerlick said. ‘And rural hospitals are particularly vulnerable to uncompensated care costs.’

The report said nationwide, about 45 percent of children in small towns and rural areas rely on Medicaid for their coverage, compared to 38 percent in metro areas. And 75 percent of kids with specialized medical issues such as asthma, cancer or developmental disabilities live in low- or middle-income families.

Swerlick said more than 2 million Florida children rely on Medicaid, but the state still has one of the highest uninsured rates in the country.

‘Radically restructuring the Medicaid program would set us way back in the progress we’ve made,’ she said. ‘And this is not the direction we want to go.’

The report, from the Georgetown University Center on Children and Families, also found the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion has had a greater positive impact in small towns and rural areas than in urban areas.”


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