Kidcare Heads to the Governor

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Melissa Hyden is relieved to hear the Florida Legislature voted to provide Kidcare insurance to 90,000 children on the waiting list at least through July 1. Her son has a critical case of asthma.

“I'm glad that I'm going to get the coverage until July. At least I can get him in there and try to get what I can and maybe hold on to the new coverage.”

But lawmakers also passed tighter requirements that will kick some kids off, depending on how much it cost their parents to buy health insurance from their employers. The bill's supporters say they need to prevent families who can get private insurance from abusing the system. The bill also does not cover about 5,000 eligible children whose applications came in after January 30. All of them will now have to wait until at least the new September enrollment period to get on Kidcare.

Melissa fears her little boy will end up getting kicked off Kidcare because her employer does offer insurance, even though she can't afford the 360 dollar-a-month cost. She worries what might happen to her son when his Kidcare runs out.

“I can't afford to give him insurance. I can't do it by myself and it scares me to death every day.”

Under the new requirements for Kidcare, a family of two with a monthly income of $1,561 will still be eligible if the cost of the child's health insurance is $79 or more. For a family of four making $3,141 a month, the private insurance must cost more than $157 a month for their children in order for them to stay on Kidcare.

The bill also provides two enrollment periods a year instead of a waiting list, one in September and one in January. The governor is expected to sign the Kidcare bill into law within days.