The Florida House of Representatives has repeatedly voted down
broadening access to healthcare for over a million Floridians; meanwhile
communities all over the state demand that lawmakers stop putting
politics before people and focus on insuring all Floridians.
MIAMI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AIDS Healthcare Foundation lauded Miami-Dade County’s commissioners for
urging the Florida Legislature to grant healthcare access to roughly 1.2
million uninsured Floridians. The Miami-Dade Board of County
Commissioners approved a resolution that communicates to the Florida
Legislature the expectation that lawmakers expand the Medicaid program.
The resolution also calls for the Florida Association of Counties to
prioritize advocacy around Medicaid expansion for the upcoming
In its current form, Florida’s Medicaid program is limited to children,
pregnant women, adults with disabilities and extremely low-income
parents. Many who do not qualify go without treatment or incur great
debt to receive the medical they require, and thousands more rely on
emergency rooms to receive care when their pain or condition is too
severe to tolerate. Emergency room care is the most expensive type of
care, and taxpayers are left shouldering the costs.
“The federal government is offering a really good deal to states who
expand Medicaid,” said Michael Kahane, AHF Southern Bureau Chief.
“The feds will fund expanded Medicaid up to 90% indefinitely. This is
very financially favorable to Florida. Had the Florida Legislature
passed expanded Medicaid from the moment it was able, the feds would
have picked up the entire cost through the remainder of this
year. That opportunity was wasted because members of the House of
Representatives and Governor Rick Scott chose politics over people’s
“The time to expand Florida Medicaid is long overdue,” said Jason King,
Legislative Affairs Manager for AHF’s Southern Bureau. “If Medicaid were
able to take on more HIV patients, it would alleviate the fiscal
constraints placed on other HIV programs, thus allowing them to redirect
funds for more effective programs that test and link people to medical
treatment. The state is on the right track with expanded HIV testing and
the legalization of Miami-Dade’s needle exchange program. Every effort
to make HIV testing and treatment readily available to those in need
should be employed.”
Medicaid expansion under the ACA intended to relax eligibility
requirements to afford coverage to most non-elderly adults with incomes
at or below 138% of the FPL. The federal government would pick up 100%
of the cost associated with the influx of new Medicaid beneficiaries
through 2016, and it would sustain the program by covering no less than
90% on a permanent basis.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) created a
marketplace of health plans accompanied by a federal tax subsidy made
accessible to millions whose income falls between 100% and 400% of the
Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Although this has enabled hundreds of
thousands of Floridians to obtain coverage, if the state continues to
block expanded Medicaid, many others will fall into the coverage gap.
These people will continue going on uninsured because they do not
qualify for Medicaid and they make too little to be eligible for the tax
credit that helps pay for a plan in the Marketplace.
Some of the most vulnerable that would benefit under expanded Medicaid
are those with serious chronic conditions, like HIV. HIV patients do not
generally qualify for Medicaid unless they have children or are
considered disabled. Ryan White programs, the safety net programs that
care for uninsured and underinsured people with HIV, have also been
unduly burdened by the inaction of lawmakers. Ryan White programs have
been forced under these circumstances to use their scarce funding to
cover HIV patients who would otherwise have access to Medicaid were
Florida to expand. Ryan White programs are experimenting with the cost
effectiveness of ACA plans versus their traditional fee-for-service
reimbursement model. The programs currently use their funding to
purchase Marketplace plans for eligible clients, including a large
population of clients between 100% and 138% of the FPL. Medicaid
expansion would free up those funds to be used to significantly enhance
medical and support services, including programs that help keep people
in care and on their medication.
Miami-Dade County currently ranks first nationally for new HIV
infections when compared to other metropolitan statistical areas.
Florida ranks second as a state and has 4 of the most affected regions
in the country.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS
organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over
611,000 individuals in 36 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin
America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn
more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org,
find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth
and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare
and Instagram: @aidshealthcare.
AHF Southern Bureau
Imara Canady, Regional Director,
Communications and Community Engagement
Kenslea, Senior Director, Communications