Loss of Medicaid coverage in FL raises concerns, ‘possible violations,’ policy experts say

By: - August 15, 2023 5:58 pm

Some states began disenrolling people from Medicaid earlier than others, with health policy researcher KFF finding nearly 500,000 in 11 states have lost their health insurance. (Getty Images)

Over half of Floridians who have lost Medicaid coverage did so because of procedural reasons and not because they were ineligible, according to an analysis from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

The Georgetown center, and several healthcare policy groups, discussed the state’s handling of the Medicaid redetermination process following the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, according to a press call Tuesday. After that, tens of thousands of Medicaid recipients lost their health care.

“Florida already has one of the highest child uninsured rates in the nation, and the state’s mishandling of this unwinding is likely to make a bad situation worse,” said Joan Alker, executive director at Georgetown’s center. “As children head back to school, we know that gaps in coverage are a big problem.”

She added: “We’ve heard numerous stories of children having to forego needed treatments because they are disenrolled from Medicaid and have no coverage. So, it’s certainly time for the governor to hit pause and get to the bottom of why so many Floridians are losing coverage for procedural reasons, especially for children.”

Alker also said in the press call that “We hear that the federal government is investigating a problem. We don’t know which states have this problem. But it’s possible that Florida has this problem. And this is a systemic problem with the automatic renewal process…and that’s where states have to check available income data to try to requalify families.”

Meanwhile, The Florida Policy Institute, in a release after the press call, said that the group “also brought attention to a recent letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Jason Weida that outlines some possible violations by the state in its Medicaid redetermination process. Broadly, it seems that Florida is on track to receive federal corrective actions, which could include a pause in the process or financial ramifications.”

However, policy groups are not the only ones unhappy with the developments in Florida, including more than 128,000 children losing coverage, long call center wait times and long application processing time for applying for and renewing Medicaid.

“Excessive call center wait times and call abandonment rates may signal barriers to the opportunity to complete an application or renewal for Medicaid … telephonically,” according to the letter.

Also, “Persons of color are less likely to have broadband or internet access, or transportation or jobs that permit the time and access needed to meet with Medicaid enrollment staff in person, and therefore may rely more on call centers.”

Furthermore, CMS will follow up on changes the Florida healthcare agency might impose to solve the problems raised in the letter.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Jackie Llanos
Jackie Llanos

Jackie is a recent graduate of the University of Richmond. She has interned at Nashville Public Radio, Virginia Public Media and Virginia Mercury.