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House Leaders Seek KidCare Waivers

FL KidCare

The list of those asking Florida Gov. Rick Scott to waive insurance premium requirements for low-income families in 48 counties impacted by Hurricane Irma is growing.

Five top-ranking state House Democrats on Friday sent a letter to Scott and the Agency for Health Care Administration, urging the administration to waive premium requirements in the Florida KidCare program for families living in counties hardest hit by the massive storm.

The state has agreed to extend the deadline for impacted families to pay the October premium until the end of the month, but House Democrats said that doesn't provide enough leeway for low-income families forced to make two premium payments by the beginning of November.

“We believe that AHCA should live up to its commitment that `the state will do everything in our power to help these families in the wake of Hurricane Irma,'” the letter reads. “Surely, it is within the state's power and resources to spend $240,000 in state funds in order to provide these families financial relief and the peace of mind that their child's health insurance is secure as they recover from the storm's aftermath.”

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida Senate Democrats and health care advocates across the state have asked Scott to waive the premium for the children's health insurance program. Former Gov. Jeb Bush waived KidCare premiums for Florida families during the tumultuous 2005 hurricane season and just last month the state of Texas received federal approval to waive premiums for Texas families impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

“Governor Scott, we are hopeful you agree that Florida's low-income working families deserve the same support and that you will take action now on their behalf. Please direct AHCA to immediately waive KidCare premiums for families receiving subsidized coverage in the 48 disaster-declared counties,” the House Democrats wrote in Friday's letter.

AHCA estimated that waiving KidCare premiums for October and November in the 48 disaster-declared counties would cost the state approximately $14.8 million. But in their letter, House Democrats say the estimate assumes premiums also would be waived for children who don't qualify for state subsidies because of their family income level.

“However, if the state were to request federal approval to waive premiums only for the 185,000 poorest children in those 48 counties, it would cost only $240,000 in state funding because more than 96 percent of the funds come from the federal government,'' the letter concluded.

The letter was signed by House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz, Democratic Leader Pro Tempore Bobby DuBose, Leader Designate Kionne McGhee, and Reps. Amy Mercado and David Richardson.