Help is on the way for Florida’s working families! House Bill 121 broadens the Florida KidCare program to provide affordable health and dental insurance for thousands of kids across our state.
Many working families don’t qualify for Medicaid, a government-sponsored program that provides coverage for low-income children and families. Florida KidCare serves as a bridge for middle-class families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but struggle to afford employer-based family plans. Through this partnership between the state and federal government, parents can find income-based coverage for their children, from birth through a child’s 19th birthday.
Before the bill was passed, families of four with gross annual incomes up to $60,000 qualified for subsidized coverage. Thanks to the bill, the income amount will increase to $90,000. The U.S Census estimates 68,000 kids who live in families within this income range are currently uninsured — a number that nearly fills a football stadium. This landmark legislation will reduce the cost of living for more Florida families and empower upward mobility.
Speaker Paul Renner set the tone for this landmark legislation on day one of session. In his opening remarks, he said, “Too often, the welfare system punishes working parents by abruptly taking away government benefits when they earn a few extra dollars. No family should ever have to choose between a pay raise and their children’s health care, so we will make it easier for moms and dads to move from welfare to work and on the way to the American Dream!”
That’s exactly what this legislation accomplishes. Through the creation of new premium tiers, it creates a glidepath for families by allowing them to pursue pay raises and better jobs so they can achieve financial stability without fear of losing the government assistance they receive. I believe families should contribute, and with this change, they will contribute more as they earn more.
With the speaker’s leadership, and the help of every member of the Legislature who worked to make it happen, we have the power to improve the health of future generations of Floridians. Newly eligible families will be able to sign up for coverage starting Jan. 1, 2024.
As a doctor, I’ve dedicated my life to helping others stay healthy by empowering them with the knowledge and resources they need to make the best-informed decisions for themselves and their families. Parents deserve peace of mind and insurance they can afford, and kids deserve great care. This session, the stars aligned, and we accomplished both.
Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos of Satellite Beach is a board-certified family physician and chair of Florida Healthy Kids Corporation.