[Over 600,000 People Kicked Off of Medicaid, Close to Half of Whom Are In Florida] - Common Dreams

Florida is among the states that have begun unwinding pandemic-era rules barring states from removing people from Medicaid during the public health emergency. Late last year, Congress reached a bipartisan deal to end the so-called continuous coverage requirements, opening the door to a massive purge of the lifesaving healthcare program.

A dozen states have released early data on the number of people removed from Medicaid as they restart eligibility checks, a cumbersome process that many people fail to navigate.

So far, the statistics are alarming: More than 600,000 people across the U.S. have been stripped of Medicaid coverage since April, according to a KFF Health News analysis of the available data, and “the vast majority were removed from state rolls for not completing paperwork” rather than confirmed ineligibility.

Nearly 250,000 people who have been booted from Medicaid live in Florida, whose governor is a longtime opponent of public healthcare programs. As HuffPost’s Jonathan Cohn wrote Sunday, DeSantis “has refused to support the ACA’s Medicaid expansion for the state, which is the biggest reason that more than 12% of Floridians don’t have health insurance.”

“That’s the fourth-highest rate in the country,” Cohn noted.

Late last month, DeSantis’ administration insisted it “has a robust outreach campaign” aimed at ensuring people are aware of the hoops they have to jump through to keep their Medicaid coverage, such as income verification.

In Florida, a four-person household must make less than $39,900 in annual income to qualify for Medicaid.

The state’s early data indicates that 44% of those who have lost coverage in recent weeks were removed for procedural reasons, like a failure to return paperwork on time.

The figures have drawn outrage from local advocates, who urged DeSantis late last month to pause the Medicaid redetermination process after hearing reports of people losing coverage without receiving any notice from Florida’s chronically understaffed Department of Children and Families (DCF).

“One of these individuals is a seven-year-old boy in remission from Leukemia who is now unable to access follow-up—and potentially lifesaving—treatments,” a coalition of groups including the Florida Policy Institute and the Florida Health Justice Project wrote to DeSantis. “Families with children have been erroneously terminated, and parents are having [trouble reaching the DCF call center] for help with this process. Additionally, unclear notices and lack of information on how to appeal contribute to more confusion.”

Citing Miriam Harmatz, advocacy director and founder of the Florida Health Justice Project, KFF Health News reported last week that “some cancellation notices in Florida are vague and could violate due process rules.”

The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that around 15.5 million people—including 5 million children—are likely to lose Medicaid coverage nationwide over the next year and a half as states resume eligibility checks made necessary by a system that doesn’t guarantee healthcare to all as a right.

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Common Dreams

Locations: Florida 

Organizations: KFF Florida Department of Children and Families Florida Policy Institute Florida Health Justice Project Congressional Budget Office 

People: Ron DeSantis Jonathan Cohn Miriam Harmatz 

Tags: Medicaid Legislation Public Health Poverty 

Type: Headlines