May 15, 2020

Reminder: Florida Officials Still Trying to Strike Down Affordable Care Act Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

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.

Last week, Florida Policy Institute (FPI) joined more than 100 organizations in asking 18 states, including Florida, and the Department of Justice to drop their Supreme Court lawsuit gutting the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Supreme Court is set to review California v. Texas later this year.

The joint letter, signed by health care advocates, insurers, providers, worker representatives, and nonprofits, explains why invalidating the ACA would only exacerbate the pandemic — and leave millions without access to care in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis that has already killed nearly 86,000 Americans.

Recent projections based on scenarios where the unemployment rate is between 15 and 25 percent indicate that an additional 403,000 - 759,000 Floridians could become uninsured.  Even before the pandemic, Florida’s uninsured rate was one of the highest in the nation, with 2.7 million people — including 1 in 5 adults aged 19-64 — lacking health care coverage. Despite these alarming numbers, state officials continue to pursue a lawsuit that would dismantle the landmark federal health care law, even as COVID-19 continues to devastate the nation.

Florida has seen a marked drop in its rate of uninsured residents following implementation of the ACA’s 2014 coverage provisions, which include marketplace subsidies. Indeed, Florida has the highest marketplace enrollment in the country — 1.9 million.

If the ACA is invalidated under California v. Texas, the millions of people who have accessed these subsidies and crucial health services, like prenatal care or mental health services, would be at risk of losing their coverage. Moreover, millions of Floridians with pre-existing conditions would lose access to affordable coverage.

Florida officials should instead follow the lead of the 37 states (including D.C.) who strengthened their Medicaid programs by covering all adults with income at or below 138 percent of the poverty level. Under the ACA, states who expand coverage receive an enhanced match rate, with $9 in federal dollars invested for every $1 a state invests in Medicaid expansion.

Aside from Florida, the states challenging the ACA in California v. Texas include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

FPI urges Florida leaders to drop out of this lawsuit.

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