Nearly half a million children have lost Medicaid in Florida. Here’s why.

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By Giselle Balido

March 27, 2024

Roughly 460,000 kids have lost their medical coverage, as the state doesn’t want to pay $12 million. 


During the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicaid eligibility was expanded. This came with the proviso that people who no longer qualified under the continuous enrollment provision could not be dropped by their state. But nearly a year since Florida began reviewing Medicaid eligibility, roughly 460,000 children have lost Medicaid coverage. 

According to a report from Health News Florida, only about 49,000 have successfully migrated to Florida KidCare, the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Florida files a suit

Before the end of 2023, President Joe Biden signed a law that extended all state Medicaid and CHIP programs to provide 12 months of continuous coverage to eligible children, even if families were unable to make their CHIP premiums. The law became effective Jan. 1. 

But in February, Florida filed a lawsuit in a Federal court in Tampa against CMS to prevent the agency from enforcing the continuous eligibility. 

RELATED: Over 2.5 Million Floridians Lack Health Insurance and DeSantis Still Won’t Expand Medicaid

The state alleged that the money the premiums provide offsets the administrative costs of the program. Complying with these rules, it claimed, would cost about $12 million per year to cover those who would have been disenrolled. A ruling has yet to be made on that case.

There was, however, and attempt to expand Florida KidCare. The target date for the expansion was April, but the process was delayed after the state failed to provide a summary of public comment, which is a federal requirement. This has delayed the process for an indefinite amount of time.

The state’s refusal to expand 

Despite the ongoing loss of healthcare access in the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Republican leaders continue to express no interest in the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, which offers states extra matching federal funds if they make the program available to everybody with earnings below or just above the poverty line. The move would offer coverage to roughly 800,000 Floridians almost entirely on the federal government’s dime.

“Why not do it? Because they don’t want to give a ‘win’ to Democrats,” Florida Democratic Sen. Victor Torres, who has been working for almost a decade for Medicaid expansion, told Floricua. 

RELATED: Florida Leads Nation in People Removed from Medicaid After Pandemic-Era Rule Ends

And Alison Yager, executive director at the Health Justice Project, an advocacy group to bring expansion to Florida, calls it a “shameful showing. Florida ranks [near the bottom] for the rate of uninsured residents.” 

Another concern

The state’s refusal to provide Medicaid expansion is not the only problem, experts say. Many families who may still qualify are being terminated from coverage. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 58% of Florida’s recipients were terminated for procedural reasons, such as a change of address, or if the recipient is unable to get through to Medicaid on its phone line. 

UnidosUS, a Latino civil rights group, reports that in 2023 eight in 10 callers were automatically disconnected from the DCF phone system between April and December.

Expand for all

In February, Florida Decides Healthcare announced a petition campaign for a constitutional amendment that would expand Medicaid access to adults earning at or below 138% of the federal poverty level, or an income of $20,120 a year for one person.

To help in the effort to expand Medicaid in Florida, you can sign the petitionmake a donation or sign up for regular updates and information on how you can help improve healthcare access for Floridians.


  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.



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