Florida has the second-highest rate of children who lack health insurance in the U.S. – and the number is rising

Georgetown University Center for Children and Families
Georgetown University Center for Children and Families

The number of uninsured children in Florida and around the country increased in 2017, according to a report released today by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

The study says that there are 325,000 uninsured children in Florida, the second highest number in the country, trailing only Texas.

“The loss of health coverage could have a profound impact on our most vulnerable children – Florida already ranks poorly on measures of child well-being,” said Holly Bullard with the Florida Policy Institute, a nonprofit research group.

The study was authored by Joan Alker and Olivia Pham with the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Children and Families.

“Declines in child coverage rates occurred in 2017 despite an improving economy and low unemployment rate, strongly suggesting that federal actions contributed to a perception that publicly funded health coverage options are no longer available,” the authors of the study write.

Needy families who’ve immigrated to the U.S. may also not sign up for insurance programs because they are afraid of reprisal from the federal government, the researchers say.

Another factor may be President Trump’s actions to undercut the Affordable Care Act. The Trump administration cut funding for “navigators” – the people who sign up citizens on to the Affordable Care Act – from $63 million in 2016 to $37 million in 2017, and just $10 million in 2018.

The report also notes that three-quarters of the children who lost coverage between 2016 and 2017 live in states like Florida that have not expanded Medicaid coverage. In states that refuse to expand insurance, the rate is almost triple the rate of states that have expanded Medicaid.

Florida Senate President Bill Galvano recently told POLITICO Florida that it’s possible that Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis could negotiate a federal Medicaid “block grant” from the Trump administration, a scenario that could potentially allow the state to expand health insurance for the working poor.
Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry has spent the past 18 years covering news and politics in the Sunshine State, most recently with FloridaPolitics.com. He worked for five years as the political editor of Creative Loafing in Tampa, and before that he was the assistant news director at WMNF radio, where he served as creator/anchor/producer of the hour-long WMNF Evening News. A San Francisco native, Mitch began his career at KPFA Radio in Berkeley in the 1990's.

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