Florida’s rate of uninsured would have been lower had Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature not prevented the federally-funded expansion of Medicaid.
It’s 1.1 million fewer than in 2013, but almost a third of the uninsured are eligible for Obamacare but haven’t enrolled, 15% have chosen not to enroll in employee-provided health care, and the rest are uninsured for a variety of other reasons.
The increase, due to the Affordable Care Act, is unprecedented since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid 50 years ago. Expanding Medicaid–as Florida did not–would have added to the ranks of the insured even more.
While most of the uninsured will be able to get subsidized health coverage Jan. 1 under the Affordable Care Act, the poorest adults under 65 will be out of luck in many states, including Florida. Many are women in their 50s and 60s, too old to have children still at home so they can’t qualify for Medicaid. But they’re not yet 65 so they don’t qualify for Medicare, either.
Florida’s rejection of federal aid for the expansion of Medicaid leaves the state with a bare-bones alternative to provide health care for the poor and uninsured while setting a defining marker against Obamacare and the federal vision of health care reform.
Although Florida lawmakers have made it known they have no intention of going along with an expansion of Medicaid under the federal health care law, legislative leaders say they’re open to crafting an alternative that would find some way to expand health care coverage to many more uninsured as the law envisions.
The Flagler County Free Clinic in Bunnell has been a commitment of grit and conviction by cancer survivor Faith Coleman and Dr. John Canakaris for the past six years. Now Coleman’s cancer is back, and like all her patients, she has no insurance.
In the past 3 years, costs related to hunger rose 62 percent in Florida. In 2010, the state’s hunger bill was $11.7 billion, or six times more than the $1.75 billion in budget cuts Gov. Rick Scott proposed for public schools.
Managed-car plans will take over almost all of Florida’s 2.8 million Medicaid patients. The overhaul does nothing to change the status of 3.8 million uninsured Floridians.
The Census Bureau’s annual poverty, income and insurance report is the hardest data yet on the severity of the recession. The elderly are not only spared: they improve.