Anne Swerlick
May 12, 2017

Preserving Medicaid: The Best Mother's Day Gift

This post was last updated on September 29, 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.

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, let’s not take for granted the critical role Medicaid plays in keeping our mothers alive and healthy.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently reported[1] that if the House GOP health care bill becomes law, Medicaid — as we know it — will end. This puts our mothers at great risk.

The bill radically and dangerously restructures Florida’s Medicaid program. Over the next decade, Florida would be locked into capped federal funding, ratcheted down year after year, making it increasingly difficult to meet Florida’s growing needs. Inevitably, state policymakers would be compelled to reduce Medicaid eligibility and services.

These cuts would disproportionately hurt women. Women are significantly more likely to live in poverty than men.[2] In Florida, of 1 million non-elderly impoverished women,[3] almost 825,000 are covered by Medicaid.[4] This includes thousands of low-income mothers, grandmothers or other relatives taking care of children, pregnant women and women with disabilities.

Reduced federal Medicaid funding is a likely trigger for policymakers to scale back eligibility, including categories that particularly impact women.[5] For example, Florida’s current Medicaid program provides critically important coverage for pregnant women who earn up to 185 percent of the poverty level ($1,860 per month for a single woman). Notably, Medicaid covers 63 percent of all deliveries in Florida.[6]

But as an expedient budget fix, in response to reduced federal Medicaid funding, the state Legislature could reduce income eligibility for these women. Never mind that this decision would be penny-wise and pound foolish, given the substantial research showing the extraordinary long term public and fiscal health benefits of providing pre-natal care.

The state could also could completely drop its Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, which provides life-saving screening and treatment for thousands of women living in Florida.

Even women who escaped losing Medicaid eligibility would be at great risk of losing critical services. For example, Florida could opt to eliminate prescription coverage or limit the number of prescriptions covered, leaving women with chronic conditions such as heart disease, lupus or diabetes without necessary medications.

And not to be overlooked – Medicaid funding caps would put coverage and services at risk for 2.6 million Florida children.[7] An uninsured child creates enormous emotional and financial stress for mothers.[8]

If lawmakers truly care about Florida mothers, they will protect Medicaid.


[1]Katch, H., Schubert, J., Broaddus, M. Medicaid Works for Women-But Proposed Cuts Would Have Harsh, Disproportionate Impact, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2017.

[2]Analysis of 2015 Census Poverty Data, National Women’s Law Center, 2016.

[3] State Health Facts, Demographics and the Economy, People in Poverty, Kaiser Family Foundation.

[4] State Health Facts, Women’s Health Indicators, Kaiser Family Foundation

[5] Protect Medicaid Funding, Women’s Health, National Health Law Program, 2017.

[6] Kidder, B., Florida Medicaid, Florida Agency for Health Care Administration Presentation to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, January 11, 2017, p. 2.

[7] State Health Facts, Monthly Child Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP, February 2017, Kaiser Family Foundation.

[8] Alker, Joan, New Study Finds Severe Consequences If the ACA is Repealed: The Number of Uninsured Children and Parents Would More than Double, Georgetown Center for Children and Families, 2016.

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