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KidCare expansion gets OK by the Florida House in an unanimous vote

FL KidCare

The bipartisan measure was approved in the House, 105-0. KidCare provides health insurance for families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid.

The Florida House unanimously approved a bill Thursday that would expand eligibility for the KidCare subsidized health insurance program.

The measure (HB 121) passed 105-0. It was sponsored by Rep. Robin Bartleman, D-Weston, and Rep. Dana Trabulsy, R-Fort Pierce.

“There is no better example that represents the bipartisan work we do in the Florida House than House Bill 121,” Bartleman and Trabulsy said in a joint statement on Facebook. “The votes on the majority of our bills reflect that the entire Florida House is on the same page, not divided as newspaper headlines suggest. This House cares about working families.”

The legislation is also receiving bipartisan support as it moves through committees in the Senate. On Wednesday, the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee approved its version (SB 246), filed by Sen. Alexis Calatayud, R-Miami.

Kidcare provides health insurance for families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid. Under the program, families who do not qualify can pay $15 or $20 a month in premiums to insure children.

Subsidized coverage is available to families with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $60,000 for a family of four, according to a House staff analysis.

The bills would increase that threshold to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

The proposals come as many families will be dropped in the coming months from Medicaid because of the end of a “public health emergency” that the federal government declared in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic began.

As part of the emergency, Washington agreed to pick up more of the tab for Medicaid, which is jointly funded by states and the federal government. In exchange for the extra money, states had to agree that they wouldn’t drop people from the Medicaid rolls during the emergency.

“No parent should have to make the choice between taking a pay raise and providing health care for their children,” Bartleman and Trabulsy wrote. “HB 121 addresses this issue by providing a pathway out of poverty for families, so that they can achieve economies self-sufficiency.”

Florida’s Medicaid program has grown from nearly 3.8 million beneficiaries in January 2020 to about 5.75 million beneficiaries last month, at least in part because people who might not otherwise be eligible for coverage could not be dropped.

The KidCare program also receives federal funding as part of what is known as the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

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.