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More Florida kids are losing health insurance

Xavier Donat (xdonat@gmail.com)
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New Medicaid numbers reveal Florida seems to have a growing number of children without health insurance.

December numbers show that over 911,000 Floridians were disenrolled from Medicaid since the Department of Children and Families began its redetermination process in April. Of that total, about 420,000were children.

Additionally, only about 11% of kids migrated to the state's Children Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, said Joan Alker, the executive director of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families.

"That number should be a lot higher. So that suggests that there are barriers that families are having trouble moving their kids to CHIP, but also it again suggests a lot of the kids losing Medicaid are probably still eligible for Medicaid," she said.

CMS data shows that 56% of Floridians were terminated from Medicaid due to procedural reasons, meaning they were unable to complete the redetermination process. Reasons for this vary and include DCF being unable to reach a family due to an address change, dropped phone calls, or computer glitches.

Alker is worried about the latter after Florida migrated its MyAccess Portal to new software in November. The move was meant to make Medicaid and other benefits easier to use by making the portal accessible through a mobile phone. However, the announcement came in the middle of the redetermination process — a confusing time, Alker said.

"There was very little notice. Everybody was really caught by surprise and to do that, in the middle of this, massive Medicaid and disenrollment process was really kind of shocking," Alker said. "Of course, any new big change in a website always has glitches."

Official data on the new website's rollout has not yet been released.

The group that experienced the greatest loss of Medicaid through procedural reasons was most likely children, Alker said. That is because children have wider income margins compared to adults in Florida. Children can qualify for Medicaid or CHIP by being in a family whose income is 200% below the poverty line. Adults qualify if they're 30% below.

"There are serious problems with the process. I think families are not getting good customer service. There's a lot of confusion. And here we are, unfortunately, many eligible children have probably lost their health insurance," she said.

Florida is one of 10 states to not expand Medicaid. One of the others is Texas, which has had the most children terminated from Medicaid — over 800,000.

Originally from South Florida, Joe Mario came to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida where he graduated with degrees in Radio & Television Production, Film, and Psychology. He worked several beats and covered multimedia at The Villages Daily Sun but returned to the City Beautiful as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel where he covered crime, hurricanes, and viral news. Joe Mario has too many interests and not enough time but tries to focus on his love for strange stories in comic books and horror movies. When he's not writing he loves to run in his spare time.
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