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Media Advisory: Reports Find that Medicaid Expansion Primarily Benefits Florida's Essential Workers

MEDIA ADVISORY

May 5, 2020

Contact: Louisa McQueeney, louisa@healthyfla.org, (561) 302-0345

Reports Find that Medicaid Expansion Primarily Benefits Floridians Working in Essential Industries: Food Preparation, Cleaning and Maintenance, Transportation

Families USA and the Florida Policy Institute reports highlight the need for Medicaid expansion to protect the workers at greatest risk after Florida re-opens.

TALLAHASSEE – Over 239,000 Floridians who work in service-industry oriented jobs, who are most likely affected economically by COVID-19, also stand to benefit the most from Medicaid expansion, according to a report released by Families USA. This conclusion comes days after a report from the Florida Policy Institute and the Medicaid Matters Florida coalition finding that Florida would see net budget savings by expanding.

The report, Florida Must Expand Medicaid Now to Protect Its Workers, features a list of the seven most common occupations of working adults who would benefit if Florida expanded Medicaid. The list has significant overlap with those industries hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Food preparation and serving occupations (ex: cooks, bartenders, restaurant servers, and dishwashers) top the list at 99,784 working adults who would be eligible.

Last week, Florida Policy Institute (FPI), the nonpartisan organization, released Uninsured During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Urgent Need to Build on Florida's Medicaid Program. The report explains that if Florida expanded its Medicaid program more than 800,000 Floridians would gain access to coverage, including 400,000 residents stuck in the health care "coverage gap." Currently, the most a family of three can make in a year and still qualify for Medicaid is about $8,000. There is no help for adults with no children. According to FPI, over the next five years Florida could see as much as $14.3 billion in much-needed additional federal dollars through the enhanced match rate, freeing up hundreds of millions of state dollars that could be injected into other areas of the budget.

Additionally, a recent multi-state poll, released through the Florida organization Opportunity For All Floridians, has shown that Medicaid expansion is broadly popular with Floridians. Four out of five voters surveyed in the poll conducted last month said that they favored “expanding the number of people who can get healthcare through Medicaid to cover more uninsured people who otherwise can’t afford healthcare coverage.”


Dr. Sarah Stumbar, Assistant Dean for Clinical Education at Florida International University and primary care physician in Miami, says that “My patient population tends to work in hotels on Miami Beach or as cater waiters and hotel cleaning people. Most of those jobs don't exist right now and that really heightens people's concerns about where they're going to get food from and whether they'll be able to continue medications.”


"Before the coronavirus, expanding Medicaid was urgent. Now it’s critical. Other states that have expanded Medicaid are much more prepared for a pandemic," said Sadaf Knight, CEO of FPI. "The state Legislature should reconvene and immediately consider this option that most other states have already taken advantage of."


“As the United States faces its greatest health and economic emergency in more than a century—with an alarming number of lives and jobs lost—it is critical that we ensure people have access to care, regardless of their employment status. As we indicate in our new report, Medicaid expansion in Florida could significantly address this access issue and support the state’s workers. We urge policymakers to act now by convening a special session and expanding Medicaid immediately,” said Joe Weissfeld,” Families USA’s director of Medicaid Initiatives.


The authors of both reports are available for further questions. On Tuesday, May 5 at 3:00 P.M., Eliot Fishman from Families USA and Anne Swerlick from the Florida Policy Institute will break down their findings during a virtual event available on Facebook Watch & YouTube.


The Medicaid Matters for Florida Coalition is spearheaded by Florida Voices for Health, Florida Health Justice Project, and Florida Policy Institute. The coalition is focused on building a learning community of partner organizations in support of expanding Medicaid to adults with low income.

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