Click here to return to the LMHS Home Page

 

Back to home

Florida Health News

Support Florida’s Expansion of Health Insurance to Low Income Workers

Florida’s Expansion of Health Insurance

FLORIDA’S LOW INCOME WORKERS NEED HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE

There are four million uninsured adults and children in Florida. Expanding eligibility to within 138% of the Federal poverty level, through either Medicaid or an alternate program, would provide insurance to more than a million low-income workers. These are the working poor -- single adults who make less than $15,000 a year and families of three making less than $23,000 a year. Since expanding Medicaid has become an unpopular political choice, we encourage our legislators to seek creative solutions, such as that suggested by Senator Joe Negron’s “Healthy Florida” plan. While the details of this alternative plan are not yet clear, we applaud the efforts and encourage them to continue. There is $51 billion in Federal funds available to fund the expansion of health insurance to the working poor. We urge legislators to access those dollars for the short term, so we can expand insurance now and then take the next few years to work toward a better program.

THESE ARE OUR TAX DOLLARS AT STAKE

Florida faces the loss of $51 billion in Federal dollars assigned to expand Medicaid over the next ten years. This is money that the taxpayers of Florida have already sent to Washington, and this money will go to other states if we do not find an alternate solution. Let’s remind our elected officials that the money for health coverage expansion is the people’s money, not the federal government’s money, and it needs to come back to the people of Florida.

HEALTH CARE ACCESS FOR THE WORKING POOR

At 30%, Southwest Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured. It is second only to Miami/Dade. We believe the right care needs to be available at the right time and in the right place. Struggling without health insurance, many patients use the expensive setting of the emergency department for their care, instead of seeing a primary care physician. Through a partnership with the state of Florida and a Low Income Pool grant, we have initiated clinics to provide primary care not otherwise available to thousands of our residents. More than half of these patients would become eligible for insurance under this expansion, and there are tens of thousands more who exceed the capacity of our clinics. We have an unprecedented opportunity to provide coverage for these and many more uninsured people using the tax dollars that the people of Southwest Florida have already paid.

REIMBURSEMENT CUTS CONTINUE TO CHALLENGE HOSPITAL BUDGETS

Current federal Medicare laws and regulations will reduce the reimbursement to Lee Memorial Health System alone by $476 million over the next 10 years. Nearly half a billion dollars is a staggering amount of lost revenue for services that must still be provided to our residents and visitors. We must find solutions so we can continue to provide essential health services our community needs.

BUSINESS SENSE

Passing along the unreimbursed costs of Medicaid, Medicare and charity care is a “hidden tax” on businesses that provide insurance and their employees who pay their share of coverage. This shell game may appear to “save” state and federal governments’ money directly, but it drives up the cost of business for everyone and makes all Florida business less attractive and competitive over the next decade. Now it turns out that what is good for working, low-income Floridians turns out to be great for our economy, too. The Florida Hospital Association reports that the economic impact of this expansion will create 121,000 jobs, including more than 10,000 in our community.


SUPPORT AND RESOURCES