Thousands of Floridians have been infected with the COVID-19 virus and the numbers continue to rise. Nearly half of the state's adults are at higher risk of serious illness if infected. More so now than ever, there is an urgent need to increase access to health care services for all Floridians, including access to COVID-19 testing and treatment.
Yet, even before the pandemic and ensuing massive job losses, 2.7 million Floridians were uninsured. Research shows that under normal circumstances the uninsured have much greater challenges accessing care. These disparities are exacerbated during a health crisis.
Scaling up the Florida Medicaid program is the most efficient and economical way to meet the needs of the uninsured, particularly in this time of crisis. If the state opted to expand its Medicaid program to cover adults (19-64) with income up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, more than 800,000 Floridians would gain coverage. In addition, program administrative changes are needed to make it easier for people to enroll and keep coverage. Ensuring health care access for all Floridians will save lives and is vital to protecting the overall public health.