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KidCare Enrollment is Up, Officials Want More

More than 50,000 children have gone on the rolls for Florida's subsidized health insurance program for kids in the past two months, and state officials are pushing for more to sign up.

“Now's the time to make sure all of our families know about the Florida KidCare program,” said former state Rep. Loranne Ausley, who is chair of the Florida Healthy Kids Board.

Florida KidCare currently enrolls about 1.6 million children and health officials will be going around the state, working with schools and local health departments to sign up more children whose families may have lost insurance because of the economic downturn.

Leah McCarthy's daughter Susanna, 8, has been enrolled in KidCare for the past five years. Though she had no health problems when she entered the program, she has since developed behavioral and gastrointestinal issues. McCarthy said she would not have been able to pay for all of the care without assistance from the state-run program.

“To me, they're all angels,” she said.

The majority of families enrolled in the program pay nothing and others pay premiums ranging from $15 to $159. About 90 percent of the children do not have major health problems.

KidCare has been beleaguered over the past few years because of budget cuts and with complaints over the process for getting into and staying in the program. Funding for the program had been cut in the past, so much that the outreach dollars weren't available to provide pediatricians throughout the state with copies of applications, said veteran Tallahassee lobbyist Karen Woodall, who also serves on an advisory council for the program.

It also faced challenges a law that made it more difficult for some families to enroll. The Legislature passed a measure this past year that would allow for electronic verification of family income, decrease the amount of time a child is disenrolled for a missed premium from 60 to 30 days and increase the number of reasons that families can use to cancel their existing coverage and be eligible for KidCare without a waiting period.

Woodall said program officials were grateful not to see budget cuts this year and that the law passed this year is key to helping more families sign their children up for the insurance.

“We certainly know we have a lot of uninsured kids out there even though we've enrolled a lot,” she said.

With more families out of work because of the recession there is a chance that applications could flood the KidCare offices. However, officials said they have enough money to cover a flood of new children enrolling in the program and a little cushioning past the projections.

1 Responses »

  1. I am the mother of a 17 month old son. Up until March of 2009 I was eligible for Medicaid. On March 31st our coverage ended because I started working a bit more. So I applied for Florida Kid care completely willing to pay something for his medical, but we could not afford to get coverage through our work or privately. Ever since I submitted the application I have been fighting a uphill battle. It started with Kid care forwarding the info on to Medikids because of my sons age. For my months I got excuse after excuse of why they had no information to give me on the status of my case. Then in July Kid care decided to resend my application through and I got a letter in the mail to choose a doctor stating I would know something within a month. Well I did that thinking finally this whole nightmare would be over. So at the end of Aug 2009 I received something from MEDICAID?????? Saying I had to provide proof of income to them by today 09/08/09. I was confused by this but went ahead and sent it in. There was a number on the form to call them to verify receipt of the info requested so I put in a call to them this morning. They did verify receiving this info but were confused why I sent it in the first place since I had not applied for medicaid!?!? I explained to them about the letter and so they double checked if was eligible for medicaid. Which of course I was not! They told me that a common problem people make is that they report different income to Kid care which makes us look eligible for Medicaid. I have reported the same income this entire time. I don't understand how it is so hard to obtain coverage, actually hard isn't a strong enough word try IMPOSSIBLE! So at this point I have given up and my 17 month old son gets to go without health care.