Georgetown University Report Finds Florida's Proposed Medicaid Premiums Pose Challenge for Children's Health Coverage

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The monthly premiums that the State of Florida hopes to impose on all Medicaid beneficiaries could result in 800,000 Florida children and parents leaving the program and risking their access to health coverage because they cannot afford to pay the fees, according to new research by the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University commissioned and funded by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and the Winter Park Health Foundation.

"If more Floridians lose Medicaid and become uninsured, they increase pressure on safety-net providers and on the state and local funding streams that support them," said Jack Hoadley of Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute.

The monthly premiums that the State of Florida hopes to impose on all Medicaid beneficiaries could result in 800,000 Florida children and parents leaving the program and risking their access to health coverage because they cannot afford to pay the fees, according to new research by the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University.

Hardest hit would be children in very-low-income families, the research showed.

The research was conducted as part of a new series of educational briefings on the potential changes looming for Florida's Medicaid program in 2012. The reports were commissioned and funded by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and the Winter Park Health Foundation.

Researchers Joan Alker and Jack Hoadley, who have studied Florida's Medicaid program since 2004, released two briefs today -- one providing an overview of the potential changes that could occur in Florida's Medicaid program in 2012, and a second detailing the potential impact of the state's plan to impose a $10 monthly premium on all beneficiaries, including children.

The premium -- which must be approved in advance by the federal government -- would reduce the number of children and parents enrolled in Florida Medicaid by 807,000, according to the researchers’ calculations. Of those expected to disenroll, 82% would be children and 98% would be below the poverty level, the researchers reported.

“Last week Georgetown released a report showing that Florida has made great strides over the past few years in reducing the number of children without health insurance,” said Alker. “This proposal would turn back the clock on all that progress and would have a devastating impact on the growing number of Florida children living in poverty.”

Those who disenroll, the researchers say, are more likely to end up using emergency rooms to meet their health care needs, increasing costs throughout the health care system and safety net programs.

"If more Floridians lose Medicaid and become uninsured, they increase pressure on safety-net providers and on the state and local funding streams that support them," Hoadley said.

Florida Medicaid has shown a 4.8% decline in per person costs over the past five years, while per person costs for family coverage provided through employer-sponsored programs have increased more than 31%.

Both briefs are available at http://www.dupontfund.org and hpi.georgetown.edu/floridamedicaid.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund makes grants to more than 330 eligible organizations identified by Mrs. duPont in her will. The fund has assets of more than $315 million and has awarded $250 million in grants since 1977.

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Cathy Hope
Georgetown University Health Policy Institute
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