Updated Aug 22, 2023 - Health

First lawsuit over improper Medicaid terminations filed in Florida

Illustration of the state of Florida covered in bandages.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Florida's Medicaid redetermination process is headed to court.

Why it matters: A lawsuit filed against Florida health officials Tuesday marks the first legal challenge to how states are dropping some enrollees from program rolls after the end of a pandemic-era policy that protected coverage.

Driving the news: Three Floridians, including two children, claim the state illegally cut their Medicaid coverage by not providing adequate information and denying them the opportunity for a pre-termination hearing.

  • They say information from the state about expiring coverage is confusing and that notices don't fully explain whether a person is still eligible.

Where it stands: Florida has removed 408,000 people from its Medicaid program as of Aug. 21, according to KFF.

  • More than half of those people were cut due to procedural reasons, like not filling out the right forms, regardless of their eligibility, KFF data shows.
  • Across the country, more than 5.2 million people have lost Medicaid coverage since states began redetermining eligibility in April, and three out of four have been removed due to procedural reasons.

Zoom out: Spanish speakers in Florida are waiting four times longer than English speakers to reach the state's Medicaid call centers to reapply for coverage over the phone, Axios' Yacob Reyes reported.

  • Federal health officials say people of color are more likely to rely on Medicaid call centers over virtual renewal options or meeting in person.

The other side: An official at Florida's Department of Children and Families told CNN the lawsuit was "baseless" and said sufficient notice had been provided to enrollees.

What's next: Additional lawsuits could be filed in other states.

  • The National Health Law Program, which represents the Florida plaintiffs, will keep working with partners across the country to make sure eligible enrollees keep their Medicaid coverage, senior attorney Amanda Avery said in a news release.

Go deeper: More than 725K pushed off Medicaid rolls by redeterminations

Editor's note: This story was updated with comment from a Florida government official.

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