Florida will begin reducing the number of Medicaid recipients in April
About 900,000 Floridians, perhaps more, They could lose Medicaid health coverage starting April 1 as the federal public health emergency due to the pandemic winds down, state officials said.
More than 5.6 million Floridians have Medicaid, or about a quarter of the state’s population, and many of them are impoverished children. The list has grown by nearly 1.8 million people since 2020, when the federal government paid states extra funds. to maintain coverage during the pandemic, even if they were no longer eligible.
But with the federal government phasing out those payments, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) will begin reviewing the eligibility of nearly 5 million recipients this year, with the rest to be addressed by other state and federal agencies.
The first to be reviewed will be recipients whose most recent income data showed they were no longer eligible, Casey Penn, assistant secretary for Economic Self-Sufficiency, said at a state House committee meeting Wednesday.
“We have about 900,000 people that we know from the last time we spoke to them that they are no longer eligible for Medicaid,” he said. “Those are going to go out first.”
Another priority will be looking at about 850,000 beneficiaries who have not responded to requests for information and those who have not used Medicaid benefits in the past year. Children with complicated medical problems and other vulnerable populations will be the last to be checked, Penn said.
Those who lose coverage will be referred to other alternatives, such as Florida KidCare, a government-sponsored health insurance program, and federally subsidized health centers that serve low-income patients.
Hundreds of thousands of people may have no other options.
But many of those who lose Medicaid will not be eligible for those programs, effectively creating a “looming wave” of hundreds of thousands of uninsured people, said Erica Monet Li, a policy analyst at the nonprofit Florida Policy Institute. profit from Tallahassee.
“This is a historic number of Floridians who could lose health coverage — one in 22 people — and all in less than 12 months,” Li said.
Their plight will once again highlight the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid as envisioned through the Affordable Care Act, said Alison Yager, executive director of the Florida Health Justice Project.
Florida is one of 11 states not taking advantage of federal funding available to states that expand eligibility to more families and adults.
Florida’s Medicaid program covers children age 5 and younger in households earning $33,408 or less and older children whose parents earn up to $31,795.
But there is no coverage for parents who earn more than $7,000 a year, and adults without children are not eligible no matter how little they earn. According to the institute, only four states in the country have stricter requirements to benefit from Medicaid.
Those earning below the federal poverty level are not eligible for federal marketplace insurance plans subsidized through the Affordable Care Act, leaving Florida with a significant coverage gap.
“People who have been covered by Medicaid for the last almost three years have certainly appreciated reliable access to care, and now it’s going to be phased out,” Yager said. “And I think there’s going to be a lot of discontent and a lot of anxiety among people.”
More staff to cope with the increase in calls
The state started in March to recruit additional operators for the call center and plans are to add a total of 137 to deal with an expected increase in calls from Medicaid recipients seeking renewal, according to a plan that the department recently published.
An outreach effort is also planned that includes mailing renewal notices in envelopes with a yellow stripe. The department will also be in touch via email and text messages.
Those whose insurance cannot be renewed by the state because they are deemed ineligible or because they do not have current income information will receive a 45-day notice with a follow-up message stating that “your coverage is at about to end, you need to take action,” Penn explained. Recipients of the second notice will have 90 days to reapply for coverage if they believe they still qualify.
During Wednesday’s commission hearing, some lawmakers raised concerns about those losing coverage.
Since Medicaid primarily covers pregnant women, families and the disabled, Rep. Jervonte Edmonds, D-West Palm Beach, asked about adults who don’t meet those criteria but still fall below the federal poverty line.
“Is there a service for those who don’t have kids or aren’t married?” he asked Wednesday.
“Really, for the adults that you just described there’s not much available at all,” said Tom Wallace, the deputy secretary for Medicaid at the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.
Information for Medicaid Recipients
Medicaid recipients who want to ensure their information is up to date should log in to their MyAccess account at www.myflorida.com/accessflorida/.