florida kidcare

Thousands of children of legal immigrants will be closer to obtaining subsidized health insurance this summer, after the Legislature passed a long-debated expansion of the state's KidCare program.

Until this year, children of legal immigrants were technically eligible for KidCare --- the low-cost federal-state health insurance program --- but had to wait five years to actually start receiving services.

That changed on Thursday, when Gov. Rick Scott signed the state budget into law. Contained in an accompanying bill (HB 5101) was language eliminating the five-year wait.

Steve Cannon / AP

To the surprise and delight of lawmakers who have long backed the proposal, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli on Tuesday called for eliminating a five-year waiting period for children of legal immigrants to be eligible for the state's KidCare health-insurance program.

"I got goose bumps," said Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, a Miami Republican who has backed the proposal throughout his House tenure. "This has been a long time coming."

Children's Cabinet Pushes To Expand KidCare

Oct 6, 2015

The Florida Children and Youth Cabinet is calling on lawmakers to help the children of legal immigrants get health coverage through KidCare, a subsidized insurance program that serves children from low- and moderate-income families.

Courtesy of Severiana Novas-Francois

In Florida, children who were born outside the United States -- and live here lawfully -- have to wait five years to qualify for the subsidized health care program known as Florida KidCare.

Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, are sponsoring legislation to drop the five-year waiting period.

The law made its third trip to the legislature this year, and will get its first hearing in the Senate committee Tuesday.