Uninsured immigrant children in Florida may get some reprieve, following the House Health Innovation Committee’s unanimous approval of Bill HB 89, which will use Medicaid Funds to provide coverage through Florida’s Kid Care Program. If the bill is approved by the full House and Senate, it could provide as much as $30 million to the Kid Care program. And estimated 32,000 children may qualify.
House Democratic Representative Hazelle Rogers praised the decision as a “long overdue achievement,” and is grateful Republican representatives on the committee who voted for the bill “relented on their stance against using Federal Medicaid funding for uninsured children.”
The bill was jointly sponsored by Republican House Representatives, Jose Felix Diaz, Miami, and in the Senate by Senator Rene Garcia, of Hialeah.
South Miami pediatrician Dr. Emily Dobbs sees the bill as “very positive, [allowing] more children to see private doctors and alleviate the pressures on the region’s hospitals with parents taken their kids to emergency rooms, because they have no insurance to take them to private doctors.”
But healthcare advocate Paula Moore says that, though she welcomes the proposed expansion, “I still want to see the Legislature vote for Medical Expansion for all low-income uninsured Floridians. The feds have the money, will provide the money, so why’s Florida punishing the poor when the money is available?”
There may also be some movement on the current five-years waiting period for immigrant children to qualify for KidCare, as House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, during his opening address to the House, said it was time to open up access.
“For the life of me I couldn’t understand why kids living in Florida legally couldn’t receive health insurance all these years,” says Dr. Dobbs. “It’s costing the state millions to pay hospitals for treating uninsured legal children in emergency rooms.”