Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lawmakers Push Changes to Salvage Children's Health Insurance Program; Funds Will Help Thousands, but Eligibility Criteria Is Raised and Future Coverage Is Now Limited

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lawmakers Push Changes to Salvage Children's Health Insurance Program; Funds Will Help Thousands, but Eligibility Criteria Is Raised and Future Coverage Is Now Limited

Article excerpt

Byline: STEPHEN MAJORS and J. TAYLOR RUSHING , The Times-Union

TALLAHASSEE -- House and Senate Republicans rammed through drastic changes to Florida's KidCare program Monday by voting to fund health care for tens of thousands of children but also raising future eligibility criteria and limiting future coverage.

A day before the 106th Legislature is scheduled to convene, the House and Senate Appropriations committees passed funding bills along party lines. Republicans said the changes would preserve the program and eliminate waste; Democrats said the changes were hasty, heartless and disingenuous.

The two committees took 15 minutes of public comment from about 15 speakers from children's advocacy groups such as the March of Dimes and the Florida Pediatric Society, all of whom opposed the changes.

"We can't be proud of what we're doing," Linda Merrell, a social services advocate from Ormond Beach, told the Senate Appropriations Committee. "Making substantive changes like this takes deliberation and time."

Both chambers expect to take up the bill for a final vote this week. The governor also would have to sign off on it.

KidCare is a joint federal-state health insurance program that uses state money and federal matching funds to provide insurance coverage with specially low premiums for children in poor families. The Republican-controlled Legislature froze enrollment in the program in July, contributing to a waiting list that has exceeded 107,000 by some measures, including about 5,000 children in Northeast Florida.

Republicans and Democrats traded charges over the effect of the changes. Republicans said it would provide for about 90,000 children on a state waiting list to get into the KidCare program. But Democrats said it would effectively shrink enrollment and benefits. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.