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Press Release

Florida Dems to Gov. DeSantis: Plan Ahead Now to Keep Florida’s Children Insured and Lower Costs for Families

Rep. Castor led the Florida Democratic Delegation in urging Gov. DeSantis to prioritize keeping children enrolled in health insurance

Today, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor led all Florida Congressional Democrats in urging Governor Ron DeSantis to ensure that Florida does not see an unnecessary and harmful increase in children without health coverage when the public health emergency ends. Congress acted during the Covid19 pandemic to ensure that individuals on Medicaid would not lose health coverage, but as we emerge from the pandemic, all states must prepare and work to ensure children stay connected to a pediatrician and health care. Florida currently has 2.7 million children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), with at least 400 thousand children under 18 gaining coverage since March 2020.

“It is critical that Florida begin making plans now to prevent a mass disenrollment of children from their health insurance at the conclusion of the public health emergency,” the Members wrote. “We look forward to working with you to meet our shared goal of keeping Floridians healthy and enrolled in high-quality coverage. “

The letter can be found here.

Local and national health leaders joined the Members in urging Governor DeSantis to prioritize the health of Florida’s children and start planning now to ensure continuity of care:

“We are deeply concerned that thousands of Florida families and children are at risk of losing coverage in the coming months. The risk is particularly high in states like Florida that have not expanded their Medicaid programs. We urge state officials to take steps now and work collaboratively with community partners to develop a plan that will minimize coverage losses and ensure continuity of care,” said Sadaf Knight, Florida Policy Institute CEO.

"States run Medicaid and CHIP so that's where responsibility lies to ensure that millions of children don't lose coverage during this process. Florida was already a poorly performing state with respect to children's health coverage prior to the pandemic -- lagging behind its neighbors Alabama and Mississippi. It's really up to state leaders to decide if they want to up their game or not,” said Joan Alker, Georgetown University Center for Children and Families Executive Director.

“Florida should be actively take all available steps to ensure that those individuals who will be affected by the unwinding of the PHE, are provided every opportunity for assistance by ensuring they are able to enroll in those other coverage options under CHIP and the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace. This can be done effectively, in part, if the state works collaboratively with Navigators and other trained assisters across Florida who have the expertise in those coverage options to help people navigate health coverage programs. It is critical that the state take every effort to reduce the number of Floridians who are currently receiving Medicaid under PHE that could potentially end up among the growing uninsured pool in Florida. Failure to do this will result in increased uncompensated health care costs, a burden for which hospitals and community health centers will bear for a very long time,” said Jodi A. Ray, MA, Director, Florida Covering Kids & Families, University of South Florida College of Public Health.