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Medicaid Turns 50: Florida Children Benefit

A new study from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families demonstrates the beneficial role Medicaid has played in the lives and health of Florida children since its passage in 1965. Credit: Pamela Moore/iStockphoto.
A new study from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families demonstrates the beneficial role Medicaid has played in the lives and health of Florida children since its passage in 1965. Credit: Pamela Moore/iStockphoto.
July 28, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Medicaid turns 50 this week, and a new study shows it has dramatically decreased the percentage of uninsured children in the U.S. in recent years, going from 14 percent down to seven percent.

The Georgetown University Center for Children and Families examined data on Americans who utilized Medicaid benefits as children, and found they are much healthier as adults. Participants tended to have lower blood pressure and fewer hospitalizations.

Report co-author Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, notes the studies also found participants are more likely to attend college and make more money as adults – and thus pay more in taxes.

"The value of these studies is to actually look at the numbers," she says. "What all of these studies show is that Medicaid is providing an incredibly valuable service to kids, and that taxpayers are getting a great return on their investment."

Medicaid serves about 3.5 million people in Florida – and two million of them are children enrolled in Florida KidCare. That program underwent a significant expansion in 2014, when the Affordable Care Act raised the maximum amount a family can make and still qualify for coverage.

Brian Kirk, project manager with the healthcare advocacy group Kids Well Florida, says 41 percent of children in the state rely on Florida KidCare.

"It's been critical just making sure children have access to that primary care doctor, so their parents aren't worried about whether or not to pay the medical bills or fill up the refrigerator," he says.

The Georgetown study also found Medicaid eligibility for children resulted in lower rates of smoking, drinking, weight issues, risky sexual behavior and premature death.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - FL