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Electric bus movement looks to accelerate; Macron says he has not ruled out using Western troop to help Ukraine stand-up to Russia; two rural Iowa newspapers saved from extinction; BLM announces added protections for sensitive Oregon landscape.

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Speaker Johnson commits to avoiding a government shutdown. Republican Senators call for a trial of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. And a Democratic Senator aims to ensure protection for IVF nationwide.

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David meets Goliath in Idaho pesticide conflict, to win over Gen Z voters, candidates are encouraged to support renewable energy and rural America needs help from Congress to continue affordable internet programs.

FL Could See Spike in Child Uninsured Rate if Health Emergency Ends

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Thursday, February 16, 2023   

As federal pandemic health emergency protections are set to expire starting in April, child advocates are concerned the program that kept Florida's uninsured children stable will result in a sharp rise in children and families becoming uninsured.

A new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families showed how Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program brought down the child uninsured rate across the country and stabilized it in Florida, but it is now in jeopardy.

Alison Yager, executive director of the Florida Health Justice Project, said if protections are lifted, she is concerned children who may no longer be Medicaid eligible, but should be through the state CHIP program, KidCare, will not see a smooth transition and cause a gap in care.

"For kids who have ongoing medical conditions, even one month without coverage could be terribly detrimental to that child's health and to that family's finances," Yager pointed out.

The report showed Florida's program was a critical lifeline for more than 65.7% of the state's children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Children younger than five receive 12-month continuous eligibility while those ages five and older receive six months of continuous eligibility.

Yager urged health officials to prepare for the potential coverage gap and find solutions, including streamlining both health insurance programs.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and the report's author, said states such as Florida which have not expanded Medicaid for adults under the Affordable Care Act, are more vulnerable for putting children at risk, since the majority of their enrollment growth during the pandemic has been children.

"So, states like Florida, Georgia and Texas that don't cover a lot of adults in their program, this is really who we're talking about; children, very poor parents, and new moms," Alker outlined.

The report noted enrollment in Florida's Medicaid and CHIP program grew by 32.6% from February 2020 to August 2022. Florida's children made up 48.2% of the growth, much higher than the 32% growth nationally.

Millions of people are expected to lose Medicaid coverage during what some are calling the "unwinding" process. The report lists two reasons for it: Either an individual's income has risen and they are no longer eligible, or red tape and communication barriers in states prevent families from renewing coverage if eligible before April.

Disclosure: The Georgetown University Center for Children and Families contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, and Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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