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More to Qualify for Medicaid Soon

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Some low-income Floridians who can't get Medicaid coverage now will qualify for it after Jan. 1, under new Medicaid eligibility guidelines that apply nationwide.

Savings accounts, a car and child support will no longer count against eligibility, which should make it easier for low-income parents to qualify, according to an account in the Orlando Sentinel.

Consumer groups and state officials explained that the health law standardizes some of the eligibility rules that have varied from state to state, to speed up processing of applications. For example, Florida sets different income levels for working vs. non-working parents to qualify; that won't be allowed as of January.

"In Florida, the changes should allow more people to be eligible for Medicaid," said Greg Mellowe, policy director at Florida CHAIN, a non-profit working toward helping Floridians get health care.

On the other hand, some who qualify under 2013 rules won't be eligible under the new ones. So Mellowe encouraged low-income uninsured people to check on their Medicaid eligibility now, because that would give them at least four or five months of coverage before officials get around to dropping them off the rolls.

Lawayne Salter of the Florida Department of Children and Families -- which handles Medicaid applications in Florida -- said the income eligibility threshold for all families will be a universal 35 percent of poverty level. For a family of three that would be just less than $6,800 a year.

"I don't anticipate that we will lose a lot of individuals as a result of the change," Salter said.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.