The Florida Department of Health and Human Services (DOHHS) has opened the doors to the Florida Medicaid expansion, providing more than a million people with coverage in a state that has the second highest uninsured rate in the nation.
The new Medicaid program, which was announced on Monday, was approved by Florida Gov.
Rick Scott on April 9.
The expansion, which covers about 1.3 million Floridians, will be open to people earning up to 133% of the federal poverty level ($19,846 for a single person).
In other words, about a fifth of Florida’s residents will qualify for coverage.
Florida Governor Rick Scott announces the expansion of Medicaid in Tallahassee, Fla., April 11, 2020.
The state has been struggling to provide adequate care to its poorest residents and to cover its uninsured population with state money.
In October, the governor announced that he would extend the Medicaid expansion to include some Florida cities.
The expansion, however, has been opposed by several conservative Republican lawmakers, including Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, who told reporters in a press conference that he hoped the state would lose its Medicaid program and instead create a voucher program.
The House Speaker called the new expansion a “great way for Florida to continue to improve the quality of its health care,” adding, “It’s a win-win.”
The expansion comes as the GOP holds its first primary in a month, with some Republican candidates promising to scrap the expansion, while others are promising to preserve it.
In addition to Florida, other states including Georgia and New Jersey have been considering expansions, although it is unclear how far they will go in coming months.
With the Medicaid program expansion in Florida, the state will become the second to expand Medicaid eligibility in recent years.
Last year, Arizona, California, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia and Wisconsin also expanded Medicaid coverage to low-income residents.