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A bill on KidCare expansion heads to the full Senate after committee passage

Sen. Alexis Calatayud, R-Miami, is sponsoring a wide-ranging bill aimed at making housing more affordable.
Colin Hackley
News Service of Florida
Sen. Alexis Calatayud, R-Miami, says the KidCare bill will “help hard-working moms and dads.”

The Senate Fiscal Policy Committee approved a bill that would increase an income threshold to qualify for subsidized coverage.

After the Florida House passed the idea last week, the Senate could be poised to take up a plan that would expand eligibility for the KidCare subsidized health insurance program.

The Senate Fiscal Policy Committee on Thursday approved a bill (SB 246), sponsored by Sen. Alexis Calatayud, R-Miami, that would increase an income threshold to qualify for subsidized coverage.

The bill is identical to the House version (HB 121), which unanimously passed the House on April 13.

The Senate bill is now positioned to go to the full Senate.

Calatayud said the bill would “help hard-working moms and dads.”

Under KidCare, families who do not qualify for Medicaid 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 legislation would increase that threshold to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

“This is a great bill,” Sen. Lori Berman, D-Boca Raton, said. “We need to make sure the children of our state have adequate health care.”

Calatayud said the bill has been “five years in the making.” But it also comes 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.

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