The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee late last week unanimously approved a bill (HB 89), filed by Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, that would eliminate a five-year waiting period for the children of legal immigrants to be eligible for the state's KidCare health-insurance program.
The bill is moving forward after languishing in the House for four years.
The House's stance changed after Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, called for the bill's passage during remarks this month to open the 2016 legislative session. Removing the waiting period would allow thousands of children to qualify for coverage immediately, according to a House bill analysis.
Health Care Appropriations Chairman Matt Hudson, R-Naples, congratulated Diaz for continuing to sponsor the measure each year.
"Certainly you and I have not agreed on this bill," Hudson said. "But I think there's a power in persistence."
Hudson also said the cost of the measure --- which had prompted his previous opposition --- had dropped significantly. Partly, Diaz said, that was because the federal government established last year that it would pay 95 percent of the cost.