The Tampa Bay Times reported Monday that Florida has lost out on millions of federal dollars intended to help states increase access to children’s health care for low-income families.
The federal government recently awarded nearly $300 million in bonuses to 23 states that have increased enrollment and improved access to children’s health programs. Among Florida’s neighbors, Alabama received $19 million, Georgia nearly $5 million and Louisiana almost $2 million.
But Florida, which has more than 380,000 children whose families’ incomes should make them eligible for coverage, didn’t get a dime of the bonus dollars.
The Times reports the state did not meet specific guidelines needed to receive the funding, failing to pass legislation that would have set up programs to meet the requirements.
“And that’s not the only health care money Florida is forgoing,” the Times reports. “The state also stands to lose a further $22 million in federal funds because the KidCare program enrolls fewer children than it is budgeted for. That fact alone, advocates say, shows that Florida isn’t working hard enough to let families know that help may be available.”
In Florida, tackling the state’s problem uninsured rate for children has had its ups and down. A report released about two months ago showed that Florida led the nation in reducing the number of uninsured children during a three-year period. The state dropped its rate of uninsured children by 4 percentage points from 2008 to 2010.
But a second report from last month showed that the progress made in the last few years could be blunted as a result of the state requiring a $10 premium from Medicaid recipients. According to the report, the measure could force out about 800,000 people from the program — 660,000 of which will likely be children.
Despite the improvements, Florida still has one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the nation. Florida is among 15 other states with rates higher than the national average. According to the study, “just six states (Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, New York and Texas) account for more than half of the uninsured children nationally.”
In February 2011, the Commonwealth Foundation ranked Florida 47th in the foundation’s Child Health Care Scorecard. The score was largely linked to the state’s high uninsured rate among children.