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Trump takes the gloves off versus Kavanaugh accusers. Also on the Wednesday rundown: rural areas reap benefits from Medicaid expansion; a two-generation approach to helping young Louisiana parents; and a new documentary on the impact of climate change in North Carolina.

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Report: Reform Bills Could Expand Florida Medicaid by 1.5 Million

August 13, 2009

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - As many as 1.5 million low-income, uninsured Floridians soon may be eligible for health care coverage through Medicaid, if the main proposals for reform being debated in Congress pass. That's according to a new report released by health care advocacy group Florida CHAIN. It found the Medicaid eligibility income level in Florida could go from just over $4,000 a year for a family of four to as much as $27,500.

Laura Goodhue, executive director of Florida CHAIN, says increasing the threshold would expand coverage dramatically.

"Florida has such a low income threshold for adults and families now that it's just not fair. It really impacts the quality of life of so many Floridians."

Critics say health care reform is too expensive, and will drive private insurance providers out of business. However, Goodhue points out, even if reform passes, 500,000 to 700,000 low-income Floridians stil will have a difficult time unless the plan provides a subsidy to make private insurance more affordable.

Diane Derby is an uninsured Floridian who has suffered a head injury, mini-strokes and heart problems. She cannot get private health coverage because of her pre-existing conditions, and she doesn't qualify for Medicaid, even though she earns less than $600 a month.

"It can happen to anyone at any given time and without warning. A catastrophic illness can hit anybody, and it affects every area of your life."

Greg Mellowe, policy director for Florida CHAIN, says almost none of the working poor in Florida qualify for Medicaid. He says the proposals for health reform give new hope to the uninsured.

"These working families face the consequences of a lack of coverage: delayed or denied access to care, skyrocketing medical debt and bankruptcy, and unchecked health problems. Health care reform is the only hope countless low-income, uninsured Floridians have for securing meaningful, affordable coverage."

The report is available at www.FloridaCHAIN.org.

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL