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Lawmakers Again Refuse to Extend KidCare Coverage to Children of Legal Immigrants

| June 22, 2015

immigration kidcare

Not so fast on waving those flags, kiddos. (MarineCorps NewYork)

Florida lawmakers have again turned back a proposal aimed at helping thousands of children of legal immigrants get subsidized health coverage through the state’s KidCare program.

The proposal, which did not pass during a special legislative session that ended Friday, would have eliminated a five-year waiting period for lawfully residing immigrants to qualify for KidCare, a subsidized insurance program that serves children from low- and moderate-income families.

About 25,000 children would have become eligible for coverage as of July 1 had it passed. The cost of the coverage came in at roughly $4.8 million — partly because the federal government now picks up 94 percent of the tab, a rate that was enhanced when Congress reauthorized the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program earlier this year.

But the proposal, sponsored by state Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, failed twice this year — once as a stand-alone bill during the regular spring legislative session and again as part of a Medicaid budget bill during the special session.

In both cases, the Senate proposed the change and the House rejected it. As a stand-alone bill, it passed two Senate committees unanimously but never got a hearing in the House. During budget negotiations this month, Garcia — chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee — tried to add the language to what is known as a budget “conforming” bill, but House leaders ultimately said no.

It’s the third straight year Garcia has tried to eliminate the waiting period for KidCare.

“We’re just mirroring federal law,” he said. “The feds got rid of that five-year wait period, so why not? Why not allow these children access to health care?”

But House leaders say their decision boiled down to fiscal constraints.

“It’s just that it was a difficult budget year,” House Appropriations Chairman Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, said. “I think there’s tremendous support for the program in both chambers. … I think it’ll be fine in years to come.”

With the federal government reducing funding for the Low Income Pool health program, lawmakers agreed during the special session to spend $400 million in state tax dollars to help “backfill” money for the program. Corcoran said that took precedence in budget talks. The so-called “LIP” program primarily sends money to hospitals to help care for uninsured patients.

House Health Care Appropriations Chairman Matt Hudson, R-Naples, said KidCare did well, given competing priorities such as hospitals and free clinics.

“We made sure that we didn’t dismantle KidCare, and that those who are fully paying on KidCare can still participate,” Hudson said. “Imagine where we’d be if we had dismantled that, and not done the other. So, I think we took a very responsible route.”

But Karen Woodall, executive director of the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy and a longtime lobbyist on KidCare issues, pointed to $301 million in projects that House and Senate leaders added to the budget last week during final negotiations. Also, she pointed to parts of a tax-cut package that lawmakers approved and Gov. Rick Scott signed.

“All one needs to do is look at the member projects, along with two specific tax breaks that were given priority over allowing children in the KidCare program — $1.2 million lost to tax exemptions for gun club memberships and $5 million lost to capping sales tax on repairs to yachts,” she said. “And did I mention billions in reserves?”

As they have tried to get the KidCare proposal through the Legislature, Garcia and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, a Miami Republican who has been another key backer, have been careful to emphasize that the measure applies only to legal immigrants. Both said they will support the proposal again next year — and try to get it moving earlier in the legislative process.

“I truly believe the enhanced federal match is an indicator that we’re moving in the right direction,” Diaz said. “But those numbers came in at the very end, when a lot of the budget was already determined. It’s hard to change hearts and minds in the middle of session.”

House Finance & Tax Chairman Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, noted that there had been “a lot of contention” over health care this year, but said he hoped lawmakers in both chambers were moving past it.

“Our job as policymakers is to find common ground,” he said. “One area where we have a moral obligation to find common ground is the coverage of children.”

–Margie Menzel, News Service of Florida

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17 Responses for “Lawmakers Again Refuse to Extend KidCare Coverage to Children of Legal Immigrants”

  1. a tasty bacon sidedish says:

    What utter douchebags.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So, the parents will be forced to turn to ER’s for the treatment of illnesses that could be handled earlier, cheaper and better by most Pediatricians in their offices. Good move, Conservatives! Not only are you being needlessly cruel, you are being fiscally stupid.

  3. Jeannie says:

    People should only have the amount of children they can afford to take care of by themselves. Why should the rest of us have to pay for their care. If you cannot afford children, do not have any. The govt. should not be responsible for caring and supporting the children you bring into the world.

  4. Yellowstone says:

    “Our job as policymakers is to find common ground,”

    Florida Legislator’s explanation for redistributing the tax revenues we all pay into – to give to the more despicable, influentially powerful, job creating, already rich beyond comprehension, ‘what’s mine is mine – and never yours’, one-percenters.

    If they are Christians (LOL) as the majority of them purport – they do NOT demonstrate any of the “do under to others . . ” principles.

    Remember legislators as my dear ole friend Pogo Possum once said: “Work hard and get your just reward!”

    Do not forget to vote next time.

  5. Outsider says:

    Ah, the article doesn’t mention whether any of the people involved are citizens or not. The parents are described as “legal immigrants.” Are they citizens or not? Also not mentioned is whether the children are citizens, in which case, they would automatically be eligible for health insurance. So what we are really talking about are non-citizen children of parents that may be here legally, but not necessarily citizens getting free healthcare paid for by we the people of a country that is borrowing trillions of dollars to pay for things we can’t afford. The “cost” is stated as about $4.8 million, as the federal government coves 94% of the cost, which would make the real cost to U.S. taxpayers $80 million, regardless of which taxpayer pocket you take it from. Now that may not seem like a large sum in the grand scheme of things, but when you calculate all the other costs associated with healthcare programs for low income people, such as food stamps, housing assistance, education, etc., and the fact that this will only encourage more “legal immigrants” to bring in more children to live off the hard work of American citizens, it becomes apparent that the costs will only skyrocket.

    • Outsider says:

      Still waiting for the answer as to whether we are talking about citizens of the United States or from some other country.

  6. Sherry E says:

    “All one needs to do is look at the member projects, along with two specific tax breaks that were given priority over allowing children in the KidCare program — $1.2 million lost to tax exemptions for gun club memberships and $5 million lost to capping sales tax on repairs to yachts,” she said. “And did I mention billions in reserves?”

    This says it all. . . our horror of a legislature prefers guns and yachts over children!

    You who are insisting that people do not have children they cannot afford. . . are you OK with abortion then? Are you in support of 100% insurance coverage for ALL contraception? Or, are you a hypocrite?

    Also, have you lived such a fortunate life that the financial circumstances of you, your family and all those you know has always been great? It’s never changed right? No job lay off, no divorce, no bad investments, no bad luck of any kind?

    How is it living in a fantasy land of the FOX Haters, and their “Makers” and “Takers”? May you and yours never ever need a helping hand. Karma has a long memory. . . the HATE that goes around comes around!

    • Outsider says:

      Why are the only options abortion and 100% insurance coverage? What’s wrong with pay for your own birth control? If someone has a cellphone then they can certainly afford a few condoms or a birth control prescription. Liberals always leave out the simplest solutions.

  7. Anonymous says:

    And, of course, these are the clowns who care so much about the sanctity of human life and children that they would let living breathing children who walk among us languish and die….Hypocrites of the first order. All you righteous Conservatives: Say “Hello” to your savior as he sends you out the door to hell for your sins.

  8. Tax paying CITIZEN says:

    I am a legal citizen who is forced to pay for insurance, I can no longer afford and still can not afford to take my child to the doctor. Why should someone who is not a legal citizen be given free health care? Oh wait I am supposed to continue to pay for someone else’s children to get better care than my own… oops I forgot

  9. Anonymous says:

    Well, Tax paying CITIZEN says, perhaps you should join many of us who support a single-payer system for everyone. There. Problem solved.

  10. Sherry E says:

    Thanks Anonymous says. . . great idea!

  11. My Daily Rant says:

    I believe if the Parents of these Legal Immergrants paid any money into the System their Children should be protected as any other child.

  12. Sherry E says:

    Outsider, you understand that it is “insurance companies” that pay for birth control for women, and normally for no additional premium, right? Birth control is NOT paid by strong armed/controlling employers like “Hobby Lobby”! You also understand that the hypocritical “Hobby Lobbys” of our country seem to have no problem with their insurance carriers paying for Viagra type drugs for men, right?

    Just checking!

  13. john l says:

    Just for those who may not remember healthcare BEFORE GOVERNMENT take over many years ago back when the average person could get a job and could pay for the doctor’s care. Once government got involved and wrote rules to protect and enrich their donors we tje people were stuck with outrageous medical cost and paying (I mean have our labor stolen) to further enrich corrupt politicians donors and provide care often better than I can afford to those who don’t even give a damn about America but want to come here and make it like the 3rd world hole they fled. Guess I get to continue being robbed so politicians can live large and have the life suckex oit of me and my country. It has nothing to do with children just see where the money goes. Yeah tax breaks for yachts aseems a good way to incentivize an industry which creates JOBS not hand outs. Why does the government post warns not to feed the animals in the parks because they won’t learn to carr for thaelves but steals my money to teach people not to fend for themselves?
    Never mind dear leader was given dictatorship with TPP to give away any chance for Americans to work so get yor hand outa before it’s too late

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