22,000 Children Lose Healthcare Despite New Law Meant To Protect Them

(PatriotWise.com) — Florida has removed more than 22,000 children from the state’s Healthy Kids CHIP program since January, despite new federal protections that prohibit states from discontinuing coverage due to non-payment of premiums, new data revealed.

According to state data obtained by the Florida Health Justice Project, 6,780 children were removed from the program on January 1. Another 5,147 were removed the following month. In March and April, 5,097 and 5,552 children were disenrolled.

Joan Alker, the executive director of Georgetown’s Center for Children and Families, said Florida was the only state that is currently violating the new federal protections that require 12 continuous months of coverage and bar states from disenrolling children over failures to pay CHIP premiums.

Florida is one of nine states that charges premiums to cover children who are below 150 percent of the poverty line.

The Biden administration announced the 12-month continuous coverage requirement, which was included in the FY2023 federal budget, in a letter to state health officials in September 2023.

In February, the DeSantis administration sued the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) over the new protections, arguing that the federal rule threatened the state’s recent expansion of the Florida KidCare Program, which oversees government health plans for low-income children ages 5 through 18 whose families earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid.

A hearing on the state’s request for a preliminary injunction was held last Thursday in a Tampa federal court. The state argues that the US Congress did not authorize the requirement for continuous enrollment and that the CMS exceeded its authority.

Florida maintains that its premium requirement is part of state law and is needed to maintain the solvency of its KidCare program.

Lynn Hearn, an attorney with the Florida Health Justice Project, accused Florida of acting as if it already won its lawsuit against the federal government.

She said the state doesn’t believe it should have to abide by the new rule that prohibits disenrolling children due to non-payment of premiums.

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