May 6, 2024 - News

Florida kicks more kids off Medicaid than expected

Animated illustration of a caduceus with the wings flying away, the snakes slithering away, and the stick falling.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Florida disenrolled children from Medicaid at a much higher rate last year than it did adults, a new analysis from the Urban Institute shows.

Why it matters: Even brief gaps in insurance can disrupt care and worsen health outcomes — especially for children, whose "rapid development" makes them more vulnerable than adults, the study's authors write.

Catch up quick: States regularly review if those enrolled in Medicaid still qualify based on income or other eligibility factors. But Congress put a hold on those checks during the pandemic.

  • This pandemic-era protection expired in 2023, and states soon began reviewing their Medicaid rolls and disenrolling people who didn't respond or no longer qualified for coverage.
  • Florida resumed this process in April of last year.

The big picture: Florida removed more children from Medicaid than the Urban Institute had anticipated. The state's net child disenrollment exceeded 140% of the think tank's projections.

  • The Center for Children and Families and Research also finds that nearly 600,000 fewer children in Florida were enrolled in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in December.
  • Florida accounts for 14% of the total 4.16 million decline in child Medicaid and CHIP enrollment across the nation, per the Center's analysis.

Between the lines: Florida is the only state not to have used any optional flexibilities the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services offered to ease this process.

The other side: The state Department of Children and Families defended its disenrollment process in a statement to Florida Politics.

  • "It is hard to fathom what additional measures the state could even take beyond the exhaustive measures that are already in place to support these individuals through the process," the statement reads.
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