- Florida experienced a 7% drop in Medicaid enrollment as the temporary COVID-19 emergency rule ends, affecting those not usually eligible.
- Media criticisms proliferated after more than 430,000 Floridians were removed from Medicaid, but it turns out Florida has actually been more humane than other larger states.
- The state’s extensive outreach attempts appear to have paid off: Florida has a lower ratio of procedural disqualifications than states like New York and Texas.
Recent data shows that Medicaid enrollment in Florida has declined 7% from April to July, a trend mirrored in other large states across the nation. The reduced rolls are largely due to an end to the COVID-19 emergency rule, which temporarily allowed those not usually eligible for Medicaid to participate in the program. This year’s eligibility verification process – the first allowed in three years – led to the disenrollment of nearly 430,855 Floridians from the Medicaid program, sparking false media headlines that Florida was coldly kicking children and single mothers off of Medicaid for reasons like merely forgetting to reapply.
Political groups and sympathetic media outlets have pointed to Florida’s number of procedural disqualifications as evidence that the state has been neglectful or even discriminatory toward Medicaid recipients. But despite the rhetoric, the evidence, which includes the most recent data, suggests that Florida’s approach is neither capricious nor hasty. The state has made extensive outreach attempts, sending out millions of emails, text messages, and phone calls to each Medicaid recipient, attempting to remind them to respond and cooperate with the state’s federally mandated effort to perform financial eligibility verification.
The newest data continues to throw even more cold water on those media attacks, as the number of people disenrolled in Florida for procedural reasons versus eligibility reasons is in line with or better than many other large states, such as Texas and New York, which have, at least partially, evaded similar criticisms. The data was collected by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a healthcare policy group that tries to track the impact of healthcare policy changes.
According to KFF, approximately 210,282 Floridians have so far been disenrolled for procedural reasons and 220,573 were determined ineligible.
In comparison, Texas showed a starkly different picture: of 616,554 enrollees who were disenrolled, around 125,000 were determined ineligible, while a staggering 490,723 were disenrolled for procedural reasons. Even in New York, which has seen increasing Medicaid enrollments, 177,978 people were disenrolled due to procedural issues against 160,029 for eligibility reasons.
The DCF’s approach emphasizes aiding eligible families in maintaining their healthcare benefits. Those removed from the program for procedural reasons typically failed to respond to multiple attempts for communication. However, this does not leave them without options; under federal rules, they have an additional 90 days to submit paperwork and can have their benefits retroactively restored if found financially eligible.
The state has also demonstrated a commitment to maintaining a streamlined and responsive Medicaid program. DCF has not only focused on removing those who are financially ineligible but also prioritized reviewing cases of individuals who have not used Medicaid benefits for at least 12 consecutive months. This approach aims to ensure that resources are allocated to those who are genuinely in need.
The bottom line is that while Florida has seen significant disenrollments in Medicaid, the reasons behind the numbers tell a different story from what has been portrayed in a wide range of state and national media outlets. Both procedural and eligibility-based disenrollments in the state compare favorably with other large states. Furthermore, the state’s approach to the redetermination process has been marked by outreach and the opportunity for reinstatement, suggesting a more nuanced and considerate policy implementation than critics have acknowledged.