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133,000 Waiting for Medicaid

The number of low-income Floridians waiting in computer limbo for their Medicaid card is far higher than previously thought, according to the Department of Children and Families.

Ninety thousand Florida Medicaid accounts that cover 133,000 people have been stuck in the federal data system for weeks pending transfer to the state, said Jennifer Lange, project director for the Medicaid Eligibility System Project at DCF.

Federal health officials are phoning those Medicaid applicants and encouraging them to sign up with their state Medicaid agencies because they don't know how long it might take to retrieve the accounts, Lange said.

She described the problem during a presentation Thursday to the House Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The same problem is afflicting the 35 other states that depend on the federal enrollment site, as Kaiser Health News reported earlier this week. The estimate at that time of the number affected in Florida was much lower.

These are people who found out they qualified for Medicaid or the state's Healthy Kids program when they tried to enroll themselves or their children in a subsidized private plan through The website was supposed to notify the state Medicaid programs of any such cases so they could be seamlessly covered.

There are cases moving in the other direction, too, in which applicants for state Medicaid were found to be eligible instead for coverage on the federal marketplace. Lange said DCF has successfully transferred more than 17,000 accounts from its computer system to that of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and about that many more are "in queue."

The number of Medicaid enrollees in Florida as of the end of December was 2.89 million, Lange said, up a bit from 2.85 million last summer. The number of Medicaid enrollees has been growing in part because of the still-troubled economy, but also because the health law's Jan. 1 requirement to have health insurance has brought many people in who had qualified for Medicaid before but not signed up, for whatever reason.

--Health News Florida is part of WUSF Public Media. Contact Editor Carol Gentry at 813-974-8629 (desk) or e-mail at For more health news, visit

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.