Lawmkmakers looking To Extend Subsidized Healthcare To Illegal Immigrant's Children
Two Miami-Dade lawmakers suggest ending the five-year wait for kids of legal residents to register in the KidCare subsidized health plan.
TALLAHASSEE-- Since she transferred to Central Florida three years back, Severiana Novas-Francois has been not able to take her daughters to the doctor.
The reason: Children born outside of the United States must wait five years before they qualify for the subsidized health insurance referred to as Florida KidCare.
Novas-Francois' kids were born in the Dominican Republic, her home country. "I'm a legal resident of the United States [and] my kids [are], also," she stated. "We applied a few times for KidCare. They rejected us.".
This year, state lawmakers will consider opening KidCare to families like hers-- legal residents with uninsured kids-- by getting rid of the five-year waiting period.
The proposal, by Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, would help about 26,000 kids in Florida, according to quotes from the state Agency for Health Care Administration.
"This expense is going to help a lot of kids that deserve and need healthcare get it at a great cost," Diaz stated.
It would apply only to kids who are in the United States lawfully. Under federal law, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for Medicaid or state kids's health insurance programs.
Florida KidCare offers subsidized coverage to kids from low-income families. The program is backed by state and federal funds.
The five-year waiting period was when a federal requirement. But in 2009, the federal government provided states the choice to offer immediate coverage to lawfully residing immigrant kids.
So far, 26 states and the District of Columbia have gotten rid of the waiting period, Diaz stated.
The proposal in Florida is a top priority for the Miami-Dade legislative delegation, and has the support of the Children's Trust, the United Way of Florida, the consumer health advocacy group Florida CHAIN and the Florida Hospital Association.
"It should be unacceptable to all of us that any kid in Florida is without health insurance," stated Vance Aloupis, statewide director of the Children's Movement of Florida, which is also supporting the proposal.
The expense may benefit from a wave of Republican support for pro-immigrant legislation in advance of the 2014 elections. But its passage is far from specific.
One prospective obstruction: the cost.
The change would cost about $69 million, $27.5 million of which would be taken on by the state, according to AHCA quotes.
"When word gets out that the income photo is better, there are a lot of folks who come with tasks and programs that seem to be beneficial," stated Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City, a member of the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee. "But when it comes down to it, we have to establish concerns.".
Garcia, the Senate sponsor, stated the proposal might yield savings.
"If we can get these kids to see a doctor and get treatment early on, it would save the taxpayers millions of dollars in uncompensated care when they utilize the emergency rooms," he stated.
Last week, the KidCare expense won the unanimous support of the House Health Innovation Subcommittee.
Rep. Joe Gibbons, D-Hallandale Beach, called the measure "long overdue.".
"One of the things I'm truly pleased to hear you state is that we want to keep people out of emergency rooms," Gibbons informed Diaz. "That's an important part of healthcare, and this is the initial step in the right direction.".
Winning over the healthcare spending plan panel may be more of an obstacle.
"I understand that $20-some million is a lot of money," Diaz stated. "That's a decision that the Legislature will have to make. But hopefully, they will see the [ unanimous] vote in the last committee, and provide this expense serious consideration.".
Novas-Francois will watch the argument from her home in Sanford. If the expense fails, she will have to wait up until her next journey to the Dominican Republic to take her daughters to a pediatrician, she stated.
"I want to get them had a look at, make sure everything is OK," she stated. "I hope I'll be able to do that in Florida.".
Novas-Francois' kids were born in the Dominican Republic, her home country., also," she stated. "We applied a couple of times for KidCare."I understand that $20-some million is a lot of money," Diaz stated. "That's a decision that the Legislature will need to make.