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Medicaid Enrollment Expected To Keep Dropping

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.

The number of Medicaid patients in Florida could be decreasing like never before. Members of the state’s Social Services Estimating Conference on Wednesday agreed to revise downward overall Medicaid enrollment estimates for fiscal year 2018-2019 from 4.02 million people to 3.86 million people. 

Moreover, economists on the panel said there were about 500,000 fewer people served by the Medicaid program in fiscal 2017-2018, which ended June 30, than previously projected.

“Medicaid caseload has been dropping month over month and overall,” said Tom Wallace, assistant deputy secretary for Medicaid finance and analytics at the Agency for Health Care Administration. “It’s really something that we haven’t really seen, or at least I haven’t seen, in the program ever here …  that we’ve seen consistently a drop in caseloads month after month.”

Wallace attributed the lower-than-expected enrollment to, among other things, the state’s decision to have the firm Equifax begin confirming salary information for people who apply for the Medicaid program.

Medicaid pays health-care costs of poor, elderly and disabled people, so when the economy is strong there are fewer beneficiaries in the program.

While Medicaid enrollment is dropping, economists agreed that enrollment in the Florida KidCare program is on the rise.

Florida KidCare is a subsidized insurance program that provides coverage to children whose families make too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

Unlike Medicaid, Florida KidCare requires families to pay a portion of premiums. For the current fiscal 2018-2019 budget, lawmakers assumed a 6 percent increase in enrollment in the program, but economists now say they expect the growth to be closer to 6.5 percent.

While the difference between the projections isn’t great for fiscal 2018-2019, the gap between projections and actual KidCare enrollment was larger for the fiscal year that ended June 30. Lawmakers estimated that enrollment in KidCare for fiscal 2017-2018 was going to be 5.23 percent higher than the previous year’s enrollment, but it grew by more than 10 percent.

The increase was attributable to an increase in referrals from the Medicaid program and targeted advertising efforts.

The Social Services Estimating Conference, which is made up of representatives from the governor’s office, legislative staff and the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, will meet Aug. 6 to discuss projected expenditures in Medicaid and KidCare.