Florida Lawmakers Looking to Expand Health Insurance for Children


Florida’s lawmakers are considering expanding state-funded health insurance for children. The idea has gained traction among Republicans and Democrats, and two competing proposals would increase the amount of money beneficiaries can make.

Currently, families making less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for the state’s program, KidCare. However, the same families do not qualify for Medicaid.

State Rep. Robin Bartleman (D-FL-104) has filed legislation to increase the income threshold by 10 percent every year for the next five years. Households making less than 250 percent of the federal poverty would now be eligible for the state program. Her proposal would require families to pay a $40 per family premium.

“What are you going to choose (to pay for) food, child care, which has gone up 200%, or health care?” Bartleman asked.

Similarly, Florida Republicans Rep. Chip LaMarca (R-FL-93), Rep. Ardian Zika (R-FL-37), and Sen. Ed Hooper (R-FL-16) has filed legislation to increase the income threshold to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. However, the Republicans’ proposal would also require families to pay premiums per child, upwards of around $200 per month.

“A family could lose health care because they are trying to better themselves and that’s not what Florida stands for,” LaMarca said.

LaMarca also noted earlier in November that his legislation “creates a glidepath” for families to continue an upward economic trajectory.

“The current eligibility criteria demands dramatic increases in a family’s monthly premium payment when a family earns even a few hundred dollars more than 200 percent above the federal poverty level and has a devastating impact to kids and their families, oftentimes leading to children losing coverage because families can no longer afford the increased premium payment,” LaMarca’s office said. “This legislation creates a glidepath that will help families keep coverage as they succeed and advance their careers.”

The state’s KidCare program has not expanded since 2012.

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Pediatrician and Child” by Eden, Janine and Jim. CC BY 2.0.

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