Florida GOP planning on kicking 100,000 dirt-poor *traditional* Medicaid enrollees off their healthcare

"Medicaid Work Requirements" have been in the news a lot over the past two years as the Trump Administration has given states the go-ahead to start imposing increasingly draconian, humiliating and ineffective work requirements for low-income people to avoid losing healthcare coverage.

For the most part, though, the work requirement bills have at the very least been restricted to ACA expansion of the Medicaid program to "able-bodied" adults earning up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Line (roughly $17,000/year for a single adult or $23,300 for a couple without minor children).

Today, Joan Alker of the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children & Famlies reports that the Florida House of Representatives is planning on taking the cruelty even further:

URGENT: On Thursday, the Florida House will take up the harshest Medicaid work reporting requirement bill that I’ve EVER seen. As many as 100,000, mostly mothers, could lose their health insurance. https://t.co/64uRz23Puk

— Joan Alker (@JoanAlker1) April 23, 2019

Here's the details:

Georgetown’s Center for Children and Families based its Florida prediction on the impact of similar policies in other states that resulted in roughly 20 percent of Medicaid participants losing coverage.

...And unlike other states, the bill being considered by the Florida House would not make exceptions for parents.

...Because Florida did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, those who qualify for the health care program are limited to pregnant women, disabled people, seniors in nursing homes and very poor parents.

The parents would be most affected by the work-requirement rule. To be eligible for Medicaid in Florida, they have to earn below 33 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $7,000 a year for a family of three.

Let me repeat that: In order to beligible for traditional, non-ACA Medicaid, parents can't earn any more than 33% FPL.

Under HB 955, which is awaiting approval by the full House, parents with children younger than 3 months would be excluded from the requirements. But if their children are between 3 months and 6-years-old, the parent would have to work at least 20 hours a week. If parents have children older than 6, they would have to work at least 30 hours a week.

Let's do some basic math:

  • The minimum wage in Florida is $8.46/hour.
  • 20 hours x 4 weeks = 80 hours/month
  • 80 hours/month x $8.46 = $677/month.
  • $677/month x 12 = $8,124/year.

33% of the Federal Poverty Level for a single parent with one child is $5,580. For a couple with one child or a single parent with two children it's $7,039.

Guess what that means?

...If it passes, it would put families in a catch 22, Alker said. If the parent doesn’t work, they would lose their health insurance. But if the parent does work, they would make too much to qualify for Medicaid, she said.

People who work 20 hours a week at minimum wage in Florida could earn $677 a month. That is above the 33 percent of the poverty level level required for Medicaid recipients.

Plus, as Alker notes, if the child is under six years old, this presents another impossible-to-deal-with burden: Who the hell is taking care of the kid while the parent is at work?

Furthermore, Alker said the bill doesn’t address barriers that traditionally keep low-income families from working, such as transportation, affordable child care and job training.

The article only identifies the political party of one Florida Representative (Bill Galvano), but it was introduced and cosponsored by Republicans Daniel Perez, Juan Alfonso Fernandez-Barquin, Mike Hill, Ana Maria Rodriguez and Josie Tomkow.