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Will Florida extend subsidized health coverage to its immigrant children?

A bill to extend subsidized health insurance to the state’s youngest legal immigrants has stalled in the Florida Legislature, due largely to the initial $27.5 million price tag.  Images-1

But Rep. José Félix Díaz, a Miami Republican says the actual price is a lot lower: between $7 million and $15 million. He’s fighting to have the measure included in the state budget.

“If we don’t act, these kids will not get primary care,” said Díaz, whose bill would eliminate a five-year waiting period for coverage under Florida’s KidCare program. “They will enter our system with chronic issues.”

Díaz will have to move quickly. Both the House and Senate have finished preliminary budget proposals without including money to extend Florida KidCare to immigrant children. The legislative session ends May 2.

KidCare provides subsidized healthcare coverage to children from low- and moderate-income families. The program is backed by both state and federal funds.

In Florida, children born outside of the United States are not eligible for the program until they have been in the country for five years.

The waiting period was once required under federal law. But states now have the option to provide immediate coverage to immigrant children who are living in the state legally.

Diaz and Sen. René García, R-Hialeah, are pushing for the change. Read more. 

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