Children Who Are Sick Can’t Succeed
Good health is the foundation for children to grow and learn. Preventative medicine and access to medical professionals when sick are critical to helping children develop and thrive.
Programs are available to provide free and low-cost health services for children and families in need. Services including maternal and infant programs, KidCare, dental care and Medicaid keep low-income children and families out of expensive emergency rooms for issues preventable with regular medical care. These programs also help keep the family well, while identifying medical issues early on–leading to quicker resolutions and better outcomes.
Racial disparities in Florida’s healthcare system hurts families and communities of color
Racial disparities in healthcare access and treatment exist throughout the country, and Florida is not an exception. According to the CDC, Black women in America are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues than white women. In Florida, Black women die at a rate of 24.7 per 100,000 while pregnant compared to 16.5 of White women. 3.5% of Florida women who do not receive prenatal care are Black, while only 1.9% are White. Disparities in access to and quality of care have been shown to have a negative impact on communities of color. During the COVID-19 pandemic the Lantix population makes up 35% of confirmed cases and 22% of deaths and the Black population makes up 19% of Florida’s confirmed cases and 20% of deaths, although they make up only 26% and 15% of the total population respectively. Health policy reform is needed to ensure people of all races have equitable access to healthcare, and that healthcare professionals are trained to meet the unique needs of every individual without bias interfering with practices.
Florida’s Number of Uninsured Children Is on the Rise
Unfortunately, Florida does not take full advantage of available insurance programs. In 2018, Florida was one of fifteen states that saw the number of uninsured children rise. From 2016 to 2018 there has been an increase of 400,000 uninsured children in the state of Florida. In 2018, Florida’s rate of uninsured children was 7.6%, exceeding the national average. The state also saw a decrease in the number of children enrolled in employer-sponsored plans, Affordable Care Act plans and Florida KidCare, the state’s version of the national Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Nationally, three quarters of children who lost health insurance in 2017 were from states that have chosen not to expand Medicaid coverage to parents and other adults. Florida is among those states – with the state’s total uninsured rate placing the state at fifth highest in the nation. Data shows that when parents don’t have health insurance, they often don’t seek health insurance for their children.
Failing to Expand Medicaid Hurts Florida
Failing to expand Medicaid has a significant fiscal impact on the state. It is estimated that the state will lose $66.1 billion in federal funding over the course of ten years (2013-2022) by not taking advantage of Medicaid expansion. Failure to expand Medicaid does not mean Florida taxpayers won’t have to help pay for the program, just that the state will not receive any of the benefits. While some states have expanded Medicaid in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida is one of the 14 states that have not yet expanded Medicaid.
Preventative Doctor and Dental Visits are Crucial to the Health of Children
Florida ranks 45th out of 51 states (including Puerto Rico) in the number of children receiving a preventative medical and dental visit in the past year. Fifty percent of children with Medicaid visited a dentist in the past year, compared to 67% with private dental insurance. Additionally, Florida ranks 35th in low birth weight babies and 28th in number of infant deaths.
Failure to keep kids healthy impacts the quality of life of a child and their family. Education, family stress, mental illness and long-term outcomes are all touched by the health of the child.
- Invest in programs proven to provide good health outcomes: Healthy Start provides services to expectant and new mothers, increasing the likelihood of good birth outcomes. Kidcare provides health insurance for children 18 and under.
- Expand the pool of eligible children: Increase KidCare eligibility limits to 300 percent of the federal poverty line or $79,500 for a family of four, eliminating the gap between children who do not currently qualify but whose parents can’t afford health insurance. Investing in services to provide preventive care reduces the cost passed on to consumers for expensive emergency room visits.
- Expand Medicaid: Covering over 500,000 Floridians in the coverage gap will save Florida’s budget over $500 million in this year alone, and reduce the burden on safety net hospitals.
- Encourage dentists to participate in Medicaid using incentives: Low-income children currently cannot access dental care even when they qualify for Medicaid in areas with medically underserved populations.
American Children’s Campaign Priority Bill Highlights
What American Children’s Campaign is Saying…
- Kids Count Data Center Florida Health Indicators—Annie E. Casey Foundation. Reports Florida specific statistics on all issues facing health care for children.
- Snapshot of Children’s Coverage: Florida—Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. Illustrates how children in Florida are covered by Medicaid, CHIP and the ACA.
- Oral Health Care System: Florida—American Dental Association. Provides an overview of Florida’s oral health care system. As of 2014, Florida ranks below the national average in the percentage of dentists participating in Medicaid for child dental services.
- Shattered smiles: Florida kids face dental crisis—Panama City News Herald. Though adequate dental care has been guaranteed by the Medicaid program in federal law since 1972, the reality of accessing dental care in Florida is much less secure, especially in rural or urban poor communities.
Disclaimer: These links to third-party websites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They do not constitute an endorsement or approval by American Children’s Campaign or its affiliate organizations and partners.