Tuesday, February 06, 2024

ANNALS OF DeSANTISTAN: State sues feds over rule that keeps kids on state-subsidized health care even if parents skip premiums. (Anne Geggis, Florida Politics, February 4, 2024)

Added to the 400,000 children he's cut off from health care, here's DeSANTIS suing to add yet another 26,000 children to be cut off from health care.  I can just feel the love.  The love of authoritarianism, the love of bullying, the love of projecting chutzpa, arrogance and insolence. Are our Boy Governor, our Florida Attorney General, our Dull Republican State House and Senate, their arachnid apparatchiks and associated anti-literate energumen ethically impaired members of the "Smirky Turkey Society" talking out of both sides of their mouths?  Purporting to care for children, while stabbing poor children and their parents in the back?  Coarse, chintzy and crass? Nasty, brutish and bullying?  Shades of Ebeneezer Scrooge in Dickens' "A Christmas Carol?"   You tell me.  Here's a photo of developer puppet RONALD DION De$ANTI$ with Joe Harding, signing the so called "Parental Rights in Education bill."  HARDING pled guilty to federal crimes and was sentenced to prison for wire fraud, money laundering and false statements (to wit, cheating the federal government on COVID relief). From Florida Politics:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs the Parental Rights in Education bill at Classical Preparatory school Monday, March 28, 2022 in Shady Hills, Fla. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs the Parental Rights in Education bill at Classical Preparatory school Monday, March 28, 2022 in Shady Hills, Fla. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)
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State sues feds over rule that keeps kids on state-subsidized health care even if parents skip premiums.  (Anne Geggis, Florida Politics,  February 4, 2024)

The disagreement has kept potentially 26,000 kids from getting state-subsidized health insurance.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is suing to toss new federal guidelines that require kids to keep their state-subsidized health care insurance even if their parents skip premium payments.

If parents don’t pay premiums and kids are allowed to stay on the state-subsidized insurance, as the feds are requiring, the new rules would be costly, the state contends. Estimates are that it could add up to nearly $30 million in unpaid premiums under the current system and nearly $50 million under the state’s expansion of Florida KidCare approved last year, according to a 411-page complaint the state filed in federal court.

Florida is the first state to file suit. According to critics, it’s another chapter in the contentious relationship between the DeSantis administration and the feds.

“The (JoeBiden Administration unlawfully seeks to undermine that requirement (for premium payments) and turn the program into a free-for-all, threatening both its solvency and long-term stability,” the complaint reads. “Those actions threaten Florida’s expansion of the program to more children in need.”

Critics have noted the state led the nation in booting kids off Medicaid, the state’s insurance for the poor, at the conclusion of the pandemic. Florida was topped only by Texas, as more than 400,000 Florida children lost their health insurance as part of the Medicaid unwinding as 2023 wound down, noted Joan AlkerExecutive Director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

In December, Florida was one of nine states that received a letter from Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra raising the alarm about the number of people losing health insurance because of procedural issues.

And this is a continuation of the same pattern, Alker said.

“The Governor of Florida has filed suit asking a judge to give him special permission to kick children off (state health insurance for children) coverage for nonpayment of certain premiums and not comply with the federal law — which was designed to protect families from medical debt and ensure children have access to the health care they need,” Alker said in a prepared statement.

“If he is successful, the Governor will ensure that more children in Florida will spend more time being uninsured. This is harmful and puts children’s health and educational outcomes at risk in both the short and the long term.”

Currently, 119,000 children are covered by KidCare, which is made up of several government-subsidized health care plans, including Healthy Kids, the complaint says. KidCare, supported by both state and federal money, requires a small, monthly premium from recipient families and covers children, ages 5 to 18.

Legislation (HB 121) that passed unanimously in 2023 increased the eligibility threshold to include those earning up to 300% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which is $93,000 for a family of four, up from the maximum household income of 200% of the FPL.

The expansion could put 26,000 more children on the state-subsidized insurance.

But the disagreement is holding up that expansion that was supposed to go into effect immediately. That’s because the federal government decreed that the expanded eligibility couldn’t take hold with a simple plan amendment. Instead, the feds required the state to apply for a waiver, triggering the showdown.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) “indicated it would not approve Florida’s proposed expansion without accompanying modifications to … provisions that allow the state to disenroll an eligible child for nonpayment of premiums during the continuous eligibility period,” the complaint reads.

The CMS rule, the complaint says, means “there is no consequence for failing to pay premiums, severely diminishing the incentive of participants to make any premiums after the first month (of enrollment). As a result, widespread nonpayment is a reasonable expectation.”

Holly Bullardchief strategy and development officer for the Florida Policy Institute, lamented that the Sunshine State is the first to pursue this litigation against the federal government’s rule and feared the effect it could have on child health insurance across the country.

“This was a win for the Legislature and the kids and I hate to see a lawsuit between the state and the federal government delay even more access to care for tens of thousands of kids,” she said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing anne@floridapolitics.com.

1 comment:

Roy said...

So called conservatives hoard and encourage billionaire grifters to hoard. That's not even trickle down economics man that just pure greed and spite which impacts our economic system in a bad way. DeSantis bragging about a budget surplus while kicking kids off the healthcare roles is deplorable behavior. He's used human beings as cannon fodder to fight political battles before, but the man just keeps reaching lower and lower lows. He's a bad person backed by a lot of bad people.