Florida is extending Medicaid coverage for new mothers to a full year after childbirth [Miami Herald] – Insurance NewsNet

for a decade, Florida Legislators have refused to extend eligibility for the Medicaid public health insurance program to all low-income adults, as required by the Affordable Care Act.

But this week Florida received federal approval to expand Medicaid benefits to a group of residents for whom state legislatures had requested additional coverage: new mothers.

Florida will join California, Kentucky and Oregon as states newly approved to extend postpartum health coverage from 60 days to 12 months for eligible women — a policy change that will benefit an estimated 126,000 women in those four states, including 50,000 women in Florida.

Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia already extended health insurance program after birth of Medicaid and children for one year.

Critical for new mothers, infants

The extension is critical to ensuring the health of both the mother and child, since most new mothers receive Medicaid Florida will become uninsured once their 60-day coverage period ends, said Alison YagerManaging Director of the non-profit group Florida Health Justice Projectwhich took the leading lobbying state legislature for coverage expansion.

“When parents have insurance, they’re more likely to have their children sponsored,” said Yager, who added that expanding Medicaid coverage will also help mothers have the ability to stay healthy between pregnancies.

“One year of childbirth insurance is not enough to ensure that women who give birth remain healthy throughout their reproductive years,” she said. “Any obstetrician will tell you that we need medical care before pregnancy, during pregnancy and after pregnancy.”

Florida Legislature about budgeted $240 million for extending Medicaid health coverage after childbirth, although the state will only pay about $89 million this amount, the rest is borne by the federal government. The extension should come into force July 1.

Medicaid paid almost 50% of all Florida Births in 2020 according to Florida Department of Healthand extending health insurance coverage to these mothers will help them access doctors, take care of chronic conditions, and find mental health services during the postpartum period.

The insurance cover ends after one year

After a year, however, mothers will not find it easy to maintain Medicaid coverage Florida. Pregnant women may qualify for coverage if they earn less than 196% of the federal poverty line or about $26,500 a year for one person.

Once maternity insurance ends, the same mother cannot earn more than 30% of the federal poverty line or thereabouts $7,000 one year for a family of three to qualify for Medicaid Florida.

Florida also has categorical exclusions for Medicaid coverage. Single adults without dependent children or a physical disability do not qualify. Only adults who meet the income limits and are pregnant or have dependent children, are blind or disabled, or are 65 years of age or older are eligible.

Children whose parents meet state income limits – between $31,000 and $46,000 for a family of three – also qualify for Medicaid insurance in Florida.

More than 5.2 million Floridians were enrolled in Medicaid as of April, and about half of them are children, according to the state Health Administration Agencywho manages the program. Medicaid enrollments have grown steadily Florida and elsewhere since the federal government moved to March 2020.

Due to the public health emergency, the federal government gave states a slight increase in their Medicaid payments. In exchange, the states agreed not to delist anyone who had received Medicaid coverage unless they moved out of the state.

Millions of Floridas could lose their health insurance

Once public health emergency ends, possibly as early as October, Floridas AHCA is tasked with restarting annual renewals for everyone in their Medicaid programs if they have been unable to verify eligibility — a huge administrative undertaking that could result in millions of Floridians, particularly children, dying lose insurance coverage.

Although many more Floridians now have Medicaid coverage than they did before the pandemic, Yager is with the Florida Health Justice Project said it’s important to remember that health insurance coverage doesn’t necessarily equate to access and care.

Many Floridians on Medicaid face long waits to see a doctor or receive specialized medical services, and Yager said it’s critical to monitor whether there are enough doctors and other health care providers to serve the Medicaid population.

“Someone may have Medicaid, but are they able to find a health care provider that is close to them in their network,” she said. “Are there enough mental health providers in a given region? This is something we want to keep an eye on going forward.”

©2022 Miami Herald. Visit miamiherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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