Florida sues feds for not letting them kick kids off CHIP

Not content to let Georgia hog all of the state-sues-feds-over-low-income-healthcare-coverage-policy headlines, the state of Florida has also recently gotten into the act with their own federal lawsuit, this time over the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. Via Health News Florida:

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has filed suit to challenge a new federal requirement that specifies when children can be removed from the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program.

...At issue is a Biden administration rule that took effect Jan. 1 requiring states to provide 12 months of continuous eligibility for enrollees ages 18 and younger under Medicaid and CHIP, even if monthly premiums are not paid.

According to the lawsuit, the rule threatens a recent expansion of coverage through the Florida KidCare Program, which administers government plans for children from low-income families, including CHIP.

A measure signed into law by DeSantis last June expanded subsidized CHIP policies through the KidCare program. It was supposed to go into effect in January, but has already been delayed until April due to paperwork issues.

Under KidCare, families who do not qualify for Medicaid pay $15 or $20 a month in premiums, though most pay nothing at all, according to its website.

..Florida's planned KidCare expansion subsidizes coverage for families of four with incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $90,000 annually. It was previously 200 percent, or about $60,000 for a family of four.

...As of October, KidCare covered more than 119,000 children from families just above the threshold to qualify for Medicaid.

A different article at the Tampa Bay Times clarifies that the KidsCare (aka CHIP) expansion would supposedly add another 42,000 children to the program, at a cost to the state of $10 million/year (the federal government would pick up the remaining $25 million).

Also from the Tampa Bay Times article:

Expanding KidCare was seen as a riposte to health care advocates who have frequently criticized the state’s high uninsurance rates and its refusal to expand Medicaid. More than 325,000 children in Florida were uninsured in 2021, according to federal census data.

Assuming the premiums apply to each child, that means the state $180 - $240 per child per year, or between $7.5 million - $10 million. In other words, pretty much the entire additional cost to the state is supposed to be covered by these premiums, meaning that the DeSantis Administration is trying to launch a nominal expansion to humor critics without the state having to actually pay anything to do so...similar to how Georgia's "Pathways" program which only covers around 2,300 people vs. the 345,000 who would have healthcare coverage if they just, you know, expanded Medicaid under the ACA.