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Expansion of KidCare program eligibility heading to DeSantis

The Florida Senate on Thursday unanimously approved a plan to expand eligibility for the KidCare subsidized health-insurance program, readying the issue to go to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Senate vote came after the House unanimously passed the bill (HB 121) last month.

Senate sponsor Alexis Calatayud, R-Miami, said the bill would help low-income families “continue the climb to upward mobility” while ensuring that children receive health coverage. Under KidCare, families who do not qualify for Medicaid can pay $15 or $20 a month in premiums to insure children.

Subsidized coverage is available to families with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $60,000 for a family of four, according to a House staff analysis. The bill would increase that threshold to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

The proposed expansion comes as many families will be dropped in the coming months from Medicaid because of the end of a “public health emergency” that the federal government declared in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic began. As part of the emergency, Washington agreed to pick up more of the tab for Medicaid, which is jointly funded by states and the federal government.

In exchange for the extra money, states had to agree that they wouldn’t drop people from the Medicaid rolls during the emergency.

The KidCare program also receives federal funding as part of what is known as the Children’s Health Insurance Program.