It was good to see that many of the major insurance companies and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have agreed to waive deductibles and copays for the coronavirus test. These important decisions would cover about 240 million Americans. However, the American population is made up of approximately 330 million people. So what happens to the 90 million uninsured Americans who may need to be tested and taken care of?
Unfortunately, the fact that so many people in the United States are uninsured leaves all Americans vulnerable in situations like these. Florida has the 4th highest uninsured population in the country with over 2.5 million without coverage. About 400,000 of those who are uninsured with no viable options for coverage could have access to care if the state would just expand Medicaid. Since 2014, Florida’s legislative leadership has refused to even debate Medicaid expansion and its potential impact on our state. Those who have studied the potential impact, like the Florida Policy Institute, estimate that expansion would save the state budget over $200 million a year while providing comprehensive coverage.
Coronavirus doesn’t care who we are, what color, what gender, where we live and certainly not whether we have health insurance or not. In this critical time, Medicaid expansion and other efforts to increase access to care for vulnerable populations should be a no-brainer for the Florida legislature. Hardworking Floridians deserve the certainty that they can access the health care system without going broke or being turned away for lack of insurance. The Florida legislature has the opportunity to do the right thing. Let’s hope they will.