Florida First State To Get Medicaid Flexibility For Coronavirus. But What About the Uninsured?
This week, CMS approved Florida’s 1135 waiver request for more flexibility with assisting Medicaid recipients. The federal government allows states to experiment with their Medicaid programs through a waiver process (waiving the rules). This new waiver allows Florida to use out of state providers to treat Medicaid patients and qualify for reimbursement. The waiver takes effect retroactive to March 1 and will remain in place for up to 180 days.
This is good news for the Medicaid population in Florida, including the 1.7 million adults (parents; aged and disabled) and 2.3 million children that the program covers. However, Florida has one of the most restrictive Medicaid programs in the country. In Florida, the most a family of 3 can make in a year and still qualify for Medicaid is about $8,000. There is no help for adults without dependent children.
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The latest waiver doesn’t address Florida’s 2.7 million uninsured including the 400,000 with no access to care at all.
Yes, the Coronavirus test is free of charge to all Floridians, but how about the treatment? And any trip to the doctor’s comes with fear that they may find another urgent issue find something else wrong with you that urgently needs care and you have no insurance.
This terrible outbreak of the Coronavirus underscores why it’s important that every hardworking Floridian has the security of health care coverage. Medicaid serves Florida’s most vulnerable populations and this waiver is a much-needed expansion in the scope of services to meet the current challenge.
Still, the response is incomplete when there are so many Floridians living below the poverty line. Medicaid expansion would provide coverage to those Floridians earning between 30% and 138% of the Federal Poverty Level, regardless of if they have children. These are people working in the industries hit the hardest and often have had the most exposure (ex: hospitality, retail, construction, caregivers).
The virus doesn’t discriminate between the insured and uninsured. It’s important that everyone have access to testing AND treatment. It’s time for the Florida legislature and the Governor to move on Medicaid expansion as a comprehensive response to this and future health care challenges.
Click here to learn more about Medicaid expansion in Florida.