February 13, 2018

New Data Show That All Florida School Districts Have High Percentages of Children Covered by Medicaid or CHIP

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.

More than 2 million children/youth across the state are enrolled in Medicaid and another 218,000 in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Georgetown University Center for Children and Families recently reported on new research demonstrating the valuable links between Medicaid and schools.

Included is updated data from the American Community Survey (ACS) on the share of children with Medicaid coverage by school district. This complements information included in FPI’s recent county snapshots and reinforces the critical role of Medicaid and CHIP for Florida students.

The ACS data show:

  • In all Florida school districts more than 20 percent of the children/youth within the districts are covered by Medicaid/CHIP.
  • In over a quarter of the districts, more than half the children/youth are covered by Medicaid/CHIP (e.g., Miami-Dade, 51.1 percent).
  • In some rural districts, more than 60 percent of all children/youth are covered by Medicaid/CHIP (e.g., DeSoto, 67.7 percent; Okeechobee, 62.2 percent; and Putnam, 61 percent).

Research shows that children with Medicaid/CHIP coverage have fewer absences due to illness, do better in school and are more likely to graduate and go to college. Medicaid also provides vital funding to support school-based health professionals and health-related services such as therapies and nursing.

Funding for CHIP was already inexcusably taken to the brink, but ultimately saved after recent congressional budget negotiations. Medicaid continues to be on the chopping block.

As more proposals to slash Medicaid are floated, policymakers must keep in mind that this health insurance is key to helping children thrive in school and become successful members of Florida’s workforce.

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