Two Miami-Dade lawmakers recommend ending the five-year wait for youngsters of legal residents to enlist in the KidCare subsidized health plan.
TALLAHASSEE— Since she relocated to Central Florida three years earlier, Severiana Novas-Francois has been incapable to take her daughters to the doctor.
The reason: Children born outside of the United States must wait five years before they qualify for the subsidized health insurance called Florida KidCare.
Novas-Francois’ youngsters were born in the Dominican Republic, her home country. “I’m a legal resident of the United States [and] my kids [are], also,” she shared. “We applied a number of times for KidCare. They refuted us.”.
This year, state lawmakers will consider opening KidCare to families like hers— legal residents with uninsured youngsters— by removing the five-year waiting period.
The proposal, by Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, would help about 26,000 youngsters in Florida, according to price quotes from the state Agency for Health Care Administration.
“This costs is going to help a lot of kids that deserve and need healthcare get it at an excellent cost,” Diaz shared.
It would apply only to youngsters who are in the United States legitimately. Under federal law, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for Medicaid or state youngsters’s health insurance programs.
Florida KidCare supplies subsidized coverage to youngsters from low-income families. The program is backed by state and federal funds.
The five-year waiting period was as soon as a federal requirement. But in 2009, the federal government offered states the alternative to supply immediate coverage to lawfully residing immigrant youngsters.
So far, 26 states and the District of Columbia have removed the waiting period, Diaz shared.
The proposal in Florida is a top priority for the Miami-Dade legislative delegation, and has the support of the Children’s Trust, the United Way of Florida, the consumer health advocacy group Florida CHAIN and the Florida Hospital Association.
“It should be unacceptable to all of us that any youngster in Florida is without health insurance,” shared Vance Aloupis, statewide director of the Children’s Movement of Florida, which is also supporting the proposal.
The costs could benefit from a wave of Republican support for pro-immigrant legislation in advance of the 2014 elections. But its passage is far from particular.
One possible barricade: the cost.
The change would cost about $69 million, $27.5 million of which would be carried by the state, according to AHCA price quotes.
“When word gets out that the profits image is better, there are a lot of folks who come with jobs and programs that seem to be rewarding,” shared Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City, a member of the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee. “But when it comes down to it, we have to establish top priorities.”.
Garcia, the Senate sponsor, shared the proposal can yield savings.
“If we can get these youngsters to see a doctor and get treatment early on, it would save the taxpayers millions of dollars in uncompensated care when they make use of the emergency rooms,” he shared.
Last week, the KidCare costs won the unanimous support of the House Health Innovation Subcommittee.
Rep. Joe Gibbons, D-Hallandale Beach, called the measure “long overdue.”.
“One of the things I’m actually delighted to hear you share is that we want to keep people out of emergency rooms,” Gibbons mentioned to Diaz. “That’s an essential part of healthcare, and this is the primary step in the right direction.”.
Winning over the healthcare budget plan panel could be more of a difficulty.
“I understand that $20-some million is a lot of money,” Diaz shared. “That’s a decision that the Legislature will should make. But hopefully, they will see the [ unanimous] vote in the last committee, and offer this costs serious consideration.”.
Novas-Francois will watch the dispute from her home in Sanford. If the costs fails, she will have to wait till her next excursion to the Dominican Republic to take her daughters to a pediatrician, she shared.
“I want to get them looked into, make sure everything is OK,” she shared. “I hope I’ll be able to do that in Florida.”.
Novas-Francois’ youngsters were born in the Dominican Republic, her home country., also,” she shared. “We applied a couple of times for KidCare.”I understand that $20-some million is a lot of money,” Diaz shared. “That’s a decision that the Legislature will need to make.