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Comment Period Begins: Last Chance to Defend Florida Medicaid

This year, legislative session ran long by a few days, in large part over dispute about cuts to Medicaid. More specifically, lawmakers targeted Medicaid retroactive eligibility to save money.

For parents and seniors who are uninsured and low-income, if you have a bad car wreck or fall seriously ill, there's a chance, in Florida, to enroll for Medicaid after the fact. This is called retroactive Medicaid eligibility (RME). Currently, if you qualify for Medicaid, the program will pay your medical bills going back three months.

However, the Florida legislature and Governor have voted to eliminate the three-month RME period for non-pregnant adults over 21. Under this plan, pregnant women and children are still eligible for 90 days of coverage, but three critical groups of people vulnerable to medical debt and bankruptcy: seniors, adults with disabilities and parents taking care of minor children.

Parents and seniors would only have coverage going back to the first day of the month that the person applies. If an eligible parent or senior files on March 28th, Medicaid would only pay for coverage going back to March 1st. If an application is filed on March 4th, Medicaid will still only cover expenses up to March 1st.

At best, this uneven system turns health care into a game of chance. At worst it will create additional stress in what is likely a family's most difficult moments.

But the fight isn't over.

Now, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has to ask the federal government for permission to change Florida's Medicaid program. AHCA is now required to accept public comment about the proposed change for 30 days. The 30-day public notice and public comment period is from March 21, 2018 through April 19, 2018.

This is our chance to help preserve this crucial benefit for Florida's families.


In Florida it is extremely difficult to qualify for Florida Medicaid. For an adult in a family of 4 to qualify for Medicaid in Florida, they must not earn more than 30% of the federal poverty level, or $7,380 per year.

Additionally, Florida’s Medicaid eligibility criteria are extremely long, complex, and not readily accessible to the public. As a result, many Floridians, especially hardworking parents, don't know they are currently Medicaid eligible or when they might become eligible.

Consider Florida's seniors, who account for a large amount of retroactive Medicaid spending.

For many aging individuals, the need for nursing home care can come on suddenly. For example, a fall may result in a broken hip, requiring long-term attention. A sudden need does not allow for pre-planning, but retroactive Medicaid coverage provides a 3-month window to get one's Medicaid coverage in order. According to Paying for Senior Care, nursing home care can cost between $5,050 - $10,050 a month. A 3 month bill can run $15,150 - $30,150.

Florida lawmakers have been punishing working adults for years by refusing to consider Medicaid expansion. This proposal is clearly a product of that mindset.

Our officials have a long way to go to protect its most vulnerable citizens, but they can start by not making the problem worse.

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