News
1:25 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Bill Would Eliminate Health-Care Enrollment Waiting Period For Immigrant Children

The proposed bill would open Florida KidCare to an estimated 26,000 children.
The proposed bill would open Florida KidCare to an estimated 26,000 children.
Credit FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Under Florida law, children who are born outside the United States and live here legally must wait five years to qualify for the subsidized health insurance known as Florida Kidcare.

Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, are proposing a bill to change that during this year's Legislative session.

Before 2009, the waiting period was a federal requirement.

Since then, 26 states have made KidCare available immediately to children who legally reside in the United States.

According to the state Agency Health Care Administration, the bill would extend coverage to an estimated 26,000 children.

It would cost the state $69 million, and $27 million of those dollars would come from the state.

Andrew Berhman, president of Florida Association of Community Health Centers, said even though the sticker price on the bill looks expensive, it could end up saving Florida a lot of money.

“The real issue is gaining access to care into a medical home model so that a child does not have to wait until they’re very very very sick to go into the emergency room," said Berhman. "The cost in the emergency room is probably the highest cost of any kind of health care you can get.”

Florida lawmakers will consider the bill during this year's legislative session, which starts on March 4.