HealthFlorida Could See Spike in Child Uninsured Rate if...

Florida Could See Spike in Child Uninsured Rate if Health Emergency Ends

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As federal pandemic health emergency protections are set to expire starting in April, child advocates are concerned the program that kept Florida’s uninsured children stable will result in a sharp rise in children and families becoming uninsured.

A new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families showed how Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program brought down the child uninsured rate across the country and stabilized it in Florida, but it is now in jeopardy.

Alison Yager, executive director of the Florida Health Justice Project, said if protections are lifted, she is concerned children who may no longer be Medicaid eligible, but should be through the state CHIP program, KidCare, will not see a smooth transition and cause a gap in care.

“For kids who have ongoing medical conditions, even one month without coverage could be terribly detrimental to that child’s health and to that family’s finances,” Yager pointed out.

The report showed Florida’s program was a critical lifeline for more than 65.7% of the state’s children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Children younger than five receive 12-month continuous eligibility while those ages five and older receive six months of continuous eligibility.

Yager urged health officials to prepare for the potential coverage gap and find solutions, including streamlining both health insurance programs.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and the report’s author, said states such as Florida which have not expanded Medicaid for adults under the Affordable Care Act, are more vulnerable for putting children at risk, since the majority of their enrollment growth during the pandemic has been children.

“So, states like Florida, Georgia and Texas that don’t cover a lot of adults in their program, this is really who we’re talking about; children, very poor parents, and new moms,” Alker outlined.

The report noted enrollment in Florida’s Medicaid and CHIP program grew by 32.6% from February 2020 to August 2022. Florida’s children made up 48.2% of the growth, much higher than the 32% growth nationally.

Millions of people are expected to lose Medicaid coverage during what some are calling the “unwinding” process. The report lists two reasons for it: Either an individual’s income has risen and they are no longer eligible, or red tape and communication barriers in states prevent families from renewing coverage if eligible before April.

Florida Podría aumentar la tasa de niños sin seguro si termina la emergencia de salud

child uninsured

Dado que las protecciones federales de emergencia de salud por pandemia expiraran a partir de abril, a los defensores de los ninos les preocupa que el programa que mantuvo estables a los infantes sin seguro de Florida resulte en un fuerte aumento en el numero de ninos y familias desprotegidas.

Un nuevo informe del Centro para Ninos y Familias de la Universidad de Georgetown mostro como Medicaid y el Programa de Seguro Medico para Ninos redujeron la tasa de infantes sin seguro en todo el pais y la estabilizaron en Florida, pero ahora esta en peligro.

Alison Yeager, del Florida Health Justice Project, dice que si se levantan las protecciones, le preocupa que los ninos que ya no sean elegibles para Medicaid pero que deberian pasar al programa estatal CHIP, llamado KidCare en el estado, no veran una transicion sin problemas y causara una brecha en la atencion.

“Para los ninos que tienen condiciones medicas continuas, incluso un mes sin cobertura podria ser terriblemente perjudicial para la salud y para las finanzas de la familia,” expreso Yeager.

El informe mostro que el programa de Florida fue fundamental para mas del 65.7 % de los ninos del estado durante la pandemia de COVID-19. Los infantes menores de cinco anos reciben elegibilidad continua durante 12 meses, mientras que los ninos mayores de cinco anos reciben seis meses de elegibilidad continua.

Yaeger insta a los funcionarios de salud a prepararse para la posible brecha de cobertura y encontrar soluciones, incluida la racionalizacion de ambos programas de seguro medico.

La autora del informe, Joan Alker, del Centro para Ninos y Familias de Georgetown, dice que estados como Florida que no han ampliado Medicaid para adultos a traves del Affordable Care Act, son mas propensos a poner en riesgo a los ninos, ya que la mayoria de las inscripciones durante la pandemia fueron de infantes.

“Entonces, estados como Florida, Georgia y Texas no cubren a muchos adultos en su programa, estamos hablando de ninos, padres muy pobres y nuevas madres,” analizo Alker.

El informe senala que la inscripcion en el programa Medicaid y CHIP de Florida crecio un 32,6 % desde febrero de 2020 hasta agosto de 2022. Los ninos de Florida representaron el 48,2 % de este crecimiento, mucho mas que el 32 % de crecimiento a nivel nacional. Se espera que millones de personas pierdan la cobertura de Medicaid durante lo que algunos denominan el proceso de “desconexion”.

El informe enumera dos razones para ello: los ingresos de una persona han aumentado y ya no son elegibles o las barreras burocraticas y de comunicacion en los estados impiden que las familias renueven la cobertura si son elegibles antes de abril.

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