More than 250,000 Floridians could become uninsured because of the way state agencies are reevaluating eligibility for Medicaid, according to an analysis from public health policy experts at George Washington University.
The analysis published Friday in the Health Affairs journal estimates that 169,000 adults and 84,500 children in Florida will not have insurance by spring, roughly a year after the process of reviewing people’s eligibility started. The Department of Children and Families and the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration have until March to decide how many are still eligible for the health care program meant for low-income people.
Researchers Leighton Ku, MaryBeth, and Musumeci Sara Rosenbaum calculated the estimate after reviewing the rate of people dropped from Medicaid and previous research about the numbers of uninsured Floridians and children who depend on public coverage. The process will the most harm Black and Latino Floridians, the researchers wrote in the analysis.
Florida is the focus of the analysis because of a lawsuit filed against officials at AHCA and DCF, alleging that the agencies didn’t properly inform people about the eligibility review, Ku told Florida Phoenix in a phone interview. Just next week, a judge in the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Florida will hear a preliminary injunction seeking the restoration of Medicaid benefits for the people who have been dropped.
“We wrote about this specifically regarding that lawsuit, so it’s not as though we were choosing Florida willy-nilly. I’m from the state of Texas; Texas has not been a shining example of this either,” Ku said.
This is not the first time George Washington University experts have raised concerns about the number of Floridians who have lost healthcare coverage since states started disenrolling people after the end of the federal COVID-19 emergency. In August, the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families executive director appeared at a press conference with Florida healthcare policy and advocacy groups about the state’s handling of the situation.
Additionally, the analysis highlights that most of the 823,000 people dropped from the healthcare program between April and September lost their coverage for procedural reasons. Health policy group KFF puts the number of procedural terminations in Florida at 435,000. Procedural terminations happen when people don’t complete the renewal process either because the state has outdated contact information or because the person does not submit the documentation necessary to determine eligibility.
“People who lose coverage for procedural problems are at risk of delaying or forgoing preventive care and/or ongoing care for chronic conditions,” the analysis states. “This could exacerbate racial/ethnic health disparities and worsen health outcomes. A more careful approach that maintains their Constitutional rights to clear notification and appeal rights would reduce the harm to low-income Floridians.”
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