March 21, 2017

Health Care Coverage for Millions of Florida Children and Families in Jeopardy

Below are key facts on how the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA), legislation currently being considered by Congress, would impact Florida children and families:

  • Millions of Florida children and families would face higher health care costs and lose health coverage.
  • Since the bill drastically cuts federal Medicaid funds flowing to Florida, the state Legislature and state taxpayers would have to either foot the bill or reduce needed health care services currently available to residents.
  • The state would have to make extremely tough policy choices, such as: raising taxes, lowering payments to doctors and/or taking away vital health coverage from children and families, seniors and people with disabilities.
  • No matter how Congress spins it, there is no way to cut Medicaid without harming kids, including those with special needs like autism, Down syndrome and other conditions that require special care. In Florida, children comprise nearly 60 percent of total Medicaid enrollment.  Medicaid covers important services like screenings, immunizations, check-ups and hospital stays. With less federal funding, kids are at risk of losing their coverage and access to these kinds of critical services.

The $880 billion in federal cuts to Medicaid over the coming decade would put even greater pressure on Florida’s state budget:

  • Lawmakers would find it difficult to fund other important priorities such as education, transportation and public safety. The specific impact on Florida’s Medicaid program is not yet known, but given Florida’s already low per enrollee spending and recurring growth in the most expensive populations — people with disabilities and the elderly — Florida’s budget would undoubtedly take a disproportionate hit. (Medicaid currently makes up nearly 60 percent of the total federal funding coming into our state. This funding helps provide health insurance to residents who need it the most. It also helps shore up our budget by allowing state dollars to fund other areas that are important to taxpayers.)
  • Florida depends on federal Medicaid funding to cover more people during an economic downturn when they might need to rely on the program temporarily, and it provides access to life-saving treatments for some of our most vulnerable children.

Congress needs to take a long, hard look at this bill and the devastating impact it would have on children and struggling families as well as federal fiscal commitments on state budgets across the country.

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