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Florida’s Seniors Not Immune To Proposed Medicaid Cuts

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.

With everyone age 65 and older eligible for Medicare, seniors may be the last group that comes to mind when there's talk of Medicaid spending reductions.

But the oldest and most vulnerable in Florida could be hit hard by the Senate's health care bill.

While Medicare pays for hospital and physician care, Medicaid helps low-income seniors with nursing home care, home-based care, eyeglasses, hearing aids and dentures.

More than half a million seniors in Florida rely on Medicaid coverage, including many in rural areas, said Anne Swerlick, an analyst with the Florida Policy Institute.

"We need to keep in mind, this includes the most frail, medically complex and vulnerable residents of these areas," Swerlick said

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports that Florida would lose 34 percent, or $8 billion, of its projected federal health care funding in 2022 under the Senate's proposal.

The state is facing significant growth among its oldest residents, who have the costliest and most intense health care needs, Swerlick said.

Many of the seniors are very poor. To access Medicaid benefits, they can’t have income above 88 percent of poverty or $885 per month for a single person, she said.

Medicaid covers 61 percent of all nursing home days in Florida, she said. The program also helps seniors pay for their Medicare premiums, deductibles, co-pays and prescription drugs.

“These are all necessary in order for low-income Medicare beneficiaries to be able to access the coverage that is offered under Medicare,” Swerlick said. 

Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.