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Florida Depending On Funding For Children’s Health Insurance

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Georgetown University
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Recent efforts in Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare are overshadowing an important deadline to fund children's health insurance.

Federal funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, is set to run out on Sept. 30.

Florida’s 2017 CHIP allotment is $686.6 million, the fourth largest in the country, according to Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families.

Legislators assumed the funding would be in place when they approved Florida's budget and the state could face difficult choices if the money doesn't come through, said Joan Alker, the center’s director.

“The state would either have to come up with more funding on its own or potentially do things like freeze enrollment, increase premiums or even roll back coverage,” Alker said.   

In Florida, more than 340,000 children who can't afford health insurance but are not eligible for Medicaid are covered by the program.

A loss or delay in funding could set the state back after it has made significant progress in reducing the number of uninsured children in the state.

A recent study by the Center for Children and Families shows a nearly 10 percent drop in the number of children without insurance in 2016. That follows a trend over the past three years that saw Florida’s uininsured rate among children drop from 11.1 percent to 6.2 percent.

“This is a remarkable drop in the last three years,” Alker said.

Still, the state has some work to do to match the national average of 4.5 percent, Alker said.

Florida had 257,000 uninsured children in 2016, the third highest level in the nation behind Texas and California. 

Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.