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Florida House unanimously passes KidCare expansion


The Florida House on Tuesday passed an expansion of the state’s KidCare program to cover health care for immigrant children.

Current law requires that children must wait five years after migrating to Florida before they are eligible for coverage through the program.

But under the expansion by Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, legal immigrants would be immediately eligible for coverage. That could give as many as 17,000 kids access to health care, Diaz said.

“One of the things you have to do as a parent is make sure that your kid is healthy,” he said. “I can’t fathom not having access to a doctor for my kids.”

The expansion bill (HB 89) is a priority for the Miami-Dade County delegation. It passed the House on a rare unanimous vote, 118-0. Next, it will need to clear the Senate.

It appears likely that will happen.

House and Senate budget negotiators agreed this weekend to use federal money needed to pay for the expansion in next year’s budget.

"It took a couple years but we got there,” Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, said this weekend. “We were able to get it done, so it's a good day.”