Lloyd Dunkelberger of the Florida Phoenix writes:
“About 14 percent of Floridians live in poverty. Many of those 2.9 million residents rely on government programs to help them meet daily needs like visiting a doctor, paying rent or buying gas.
But Florida has never been overly generous in helping the poor. In fact, critics call the state stingy when it comes to programs like Medicaid, which provides health care for the state’s poor and disabled residents.
Non-disabled adults without dependent children, no matter how poor, can’t qualify for Medicaid. Only five states make it harder than Florida for working parents to qualify, according to the Florida Policy Institute [emphasis added]. If a family of three makes more than $7,038 a year, the parents won’t receive Medicaid support.
Despite the hardship that the neediest face, Florida is among just 14 states that have refused to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. If the state did expand Medicaid, more than 700,000 poor Floridians could gain needed health coverage.
The Republican-led Florida Legislature resists expanding Medicaid to cover more needy residents year after year. And this year, state lawmakers are advancing proposals to make it even harder for Floridians to qualify for programs like Medicaid and a temporary cash-assistance program for the poor that only provides about $300 a month for a family of three. In hearing the proposals, one Democratic lawmaker asked: “How can a family with nothing be forced to meet these stringent requirements?”